Isay on Non-forgetfulness and forgetfulness

Gad C Isay’s article “Non-forgetfulness and forgetfulness 忘 (wang) in ancient Chinese philosophical texts” has been published in Memory Studies (October 2021). doi:10.1177/17506980211044704. The abstract follows, and see the above link for the full text.


In this study, I examine conceptualizations of memory in classical Chinese philosophical texts with the purpose of encouraging the inclusion of ideas of non-Western cultures in memory studies. The texts selected for this study are Kongzi’s AnalectsMengzi, the Xici commentary on the Book of Changes, the Zhuangzi, and the Xunzi. Methodologically, I differentiate between the mnemic process and its goal. My point of departure is the complementary relation that marks the non-forgetfulness and forgetfulness sequence. This study proposes the paradigm of an axis and margins to represent the yinyang reasoning implied by the complementary relation in conjunction with the narrativity of the mnemic process. Two major consequences of this model are the understanding of non-forgetfulness and forgetfulness in terms of attentive and suspended awareness, and the supportive role of forgetfulness or suspended awareness in enhancing the function of memory.

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