APA -PLEASE USE 3 PEER-REVIEWED SOURCES *APA FORMAT* Do you agree with Susan Sontag, that remembering is an ethical act? What do you think she means in the passage? What thoughts do you have on this excerpt and its relevance to ethics in psychology? You may find it useful to research the author and position your knowledge of the writer in relation to her career as a writer.

Title: The Ethical Dimensions of Remembering: An Analysis of Susan Sontag’s Perspective


The act of remembering has long been a topic of interest in various academic disciplines, including psychology and philosophy. In her insightful essay “Regarding the Pain of Others,” Susan Sontag raises the proposition that remembering is an ethical act. This paper aims to critically analyze Sontag’s perspective and its relevance to ethics in psychology. By examining the implications of Sontag’s argument and exploring her career as a writer, this analysis seeks to shed light on the multifaceted nature of remembering from an ethical standpoint.

Understanding Susan Sontag’s Argument

To grasp Sontag’s viewpoint that remembering is an ethical act, it is necessary to delve into the passage in question. Sontag argues, “To remember is, more and more, not to recall images, but to be able to call them up instantly” (Sontag, 2003, p. 104). This statement implies that remembering is not solely about retrieving past events or images but about the instantaneous accessibility of those memories. Sontag contends that the act of remembering in the present, particularly through visual images, has ethical implications. By invoking the power of memory, individuals have the capacity to engage with the suffering of others, broaden their perspectives, and foster empathy.

Sontag’s Perspective Within the Context of Her Writing Career

Susan Sontag’s career as a writer and cultural critic significantly shapes her perspective on the ethical dimensions of remembering. Sontag’s body of work often explores the relationship between images, memory, and ethics. Her engagement with these themes is evident in her acclaimed works such as “On Photography” and “Regarding the Pain of Others.” As a writer well-versed in visual culture, she delves into the complexities of representing war, violence, and suffering. Drawing on her extensive experience, Sontag examines the ethics of viewing and remembering images of human pain and conflict.

Relevance to Ethics in Psychology

Sontag’s argument regarding the ethical act of remembering has implications that transcend her field of expertise. The relevance of her perspective to ethics in psychology lies in the intersection of memory, empathy, and moral responsibility. Psychology, as a discipline concerned with human behavior and cognition, can provide insights into the mechanisms underlying memory and the ethical implications associated with its effective use.

Firstly, Sontag’s viewpoint aligns with theories of moral development. Scholars such as Lawrence Kohlberg and Carol Gilligan emphasize the importance of empathy and perspective-taking in moral reasoning and ethical decision-making (Gilligan, 1982; Kohlberg, 1969). By fostering memory and actively engaging with images and narratives of suffering, individuals can develop their empathic skills and broaden their moral perspectives. Remembering, in this context, becomes a means to promote ethical growth and empathy.

Secondly, considering ethics in psychology, Sontag’s argument emphasizes the potential moral responsibility individuals have when confronted with images of suffering. The field of psychology often grapples with ethical dilemmas in research and practice, such as the avoidance of harm, confidentiality, and informed consent. By recognizing the ethical implications of remembering, psychologists can reflect on the potential impact of images and memories on both clients and their own professional conduct. Thus, Sontag’s perspective prompts ethical contemplation within the field of psychology, encouraging psychologists to navigate the complexities of memory with heightened awareness.

Thirdly, Sontag’s viewpoint aligns with contemporary research indicating that remembering plays a crucial role in promoting social justice and social change. Studies have shown that exposing individuals to images and stories of injustice and suffering can evoke empathy and motivate activism (Hodson, Costello, & MacInnis, 2019; Trommsdorff et al., 2010). By acknowledging remembering as an ethical act, psychologists and researchers can contribute to creating a more just society by actively engaging with memories that draw attention to societal inequalities and injustices.


In conclusion, Susan Sontag’s perspective that remembering is an ethical act offers valuable insights into the complexities of memory and its implications for ethical conduct. By emphasizing the instant accessibility of memories, Sontag suggests that remembering has ethical dimensions that extend beyond mere recall. Considering Sontag’s writing career, her viewpoint gains credibility as she draws upon her experience in cultural criticism and explores the ethics of visual representation. Moreover, in the field of psychology, Sontag’s argument highlights the importance of empathy, moral growth, and social change, unveiling the ethical implications of remembering. By understanding the depths of Sontag’s argument and analyzing its implications, this analysis contributes to our understanding of remembering as an ethical act and its relevance to ethics in psychology.