Ciaran Benson: Some Ways in Which Emotions ‘Contain’ and Maintain Identities & The Question of How Might a ‘Cultural Memory’ Become a Quasi-Personal Memory?

Emotions in the Maintenance and Reproduction of Identities?

Reflections on Cultural and Personal Memories.

This lecture will try to connect a variety of ideas on self, memory and emotion. Starting from Jan Assman's ideas of cultural memory and identity, the paper will proceed by briefly reviewing the question of time in self and self in time. The idea that emotions play a key role, as high-level 'procedural memories', will be considered by adapting ideas of the American philosopher Harry Frankfurt, and applying them to a particular case of a so-called 'honour killing' in Sweden. The idea explored is that 'unthinkable thoughts' about actions of the self, and negative emotions, are constitutive of the 'boundaries' of self. An identity-constituting negative memory of the British philosopher Richard Wollheim, interpreted through his own writings on identity and memory, will be explored as an example. The final part of the paper will reflect on some possible relationships between cultural and personal memories in the formation of selfhood.