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Essays in Philosophy

Volume 19, Issue 2, July 2018
The Philosophy of Memory

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Displaying: 1-14 of 14 documents

editor’s introduction
1. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Ian O’Loughlin, Sarah Robins Issue Introduction
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2. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Nikola Andonovski Is Episodic Memory a Natural Kind?
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In a recent paper, Sen Cheng and Markus Werning argue that the class of episodic memories constitutes a natural kind. Endorsing the homeostatic property cluster view of natural kinds, they suggest that episodic memories can be characterized by a cluster of properties unified by an underlying neural mechanism for coding sequences of events. Here, I argue that Cheng and Werning’s proposal faces some significant, and potentially insurmountable, difficulties. Two are described as most prominent. First, the proposal fails to satisfy an important normative constraint on natural kind theorizing, not providing the requisite theoretical resources for arbitration between rival taxonomies of memory. Second, the proposal is in direct tension with a foundational principle of the HPC view: the rejection of essentialism. This has far-reaching consequences, which threaten to undermine the coherence of the proposal.
3. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Laura Follesa Learning and Vision: Johann Gottfried Herder on Memory
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A consistent thread throughout Johann Gottfried Herder’s thought is his interest in human knowledge and in its origins. Although he never formulated a systematic theory of knowledge, elements of one are disseminated in his writings, from the early manuscript Plato sagte (1766–68) to one of his last works, the periodical Adrastea (1801–3). Herder assigned a very special function to memory and to the related idea of a recollection of “images,” as they play a pivotal role in the formation of personal identity. He provided an original description of the Platonic theory of recollection, trying to merge ancient and modern metaphysical views and to interpret them from a less metaphysical and more psychological point of view. I then analyze Herder’s notion of memory via another research line, which is basically founded upon the analogy between the childhood of an individual and the infancy of the human race. Finally, I explore Herder’s view that memory and imagination, as “forces” of the soul, can have negative effects on an individual when they are not equally balanced.
4. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Arieh Schwartz Memory and Disjunctivism
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Recent analyses of memory (Robins 2016; Cheng & Werning 2016; Michaelian 2016; Bernecker, 2017) propose necessary and jointly sufficient conditions for a mental state to be a memory, which are meant to set memory apart from related mental states like illusory memory and confabulation. Each of the proposed taxonomies includes accuracy as one of the necessary conditions such that only accurate representations are memories. I argue that inclusion of an accuracy condition implies a sort of disjunctivism about seeming to remember. The paper distinguishes several types of disjunctivism that these taxonomies could be committed to. If these taxonomies are meant to be empirically informed, however, then plausibly they should be seen to endorse the principle of psychological internalism. The causal argument, a standard objection to disjunctivism (Robinson 1985; Burge 2005, 2011), is then used to show that the sort of disjunctivism that endorses psychological internalism is mistaken. The ultimate goal is to underscore a lack of clarity in the status of recent accounts of memory as either epistemic, nonreductively ontological, or reductively ontological in approach.
5. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Carlos Montemayor Consciousness and Memory: A Transactional Approach
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The prevailing view about our memory skills is that they serve a complex epistemic function. I shall call this the “monistic view.” Instead of a monistic, exclusively epistemic approach, I propose a transactional view. On this approach, autobiographical memory is irreducible to the epistemic functions of episodic memory because of its essentially moral and empathic character. I argue that this transactional view provides a more plausible and integral account of memory capacities in humans, based on theoretical and empirical reasons. Memory, on this account, plays two distinctive roles. The episodic memory system satisfies epistemic needs and is valuable because it is a source of justification for beliefs about the past. Autobiographical memory satisfies moral and narrative-autonoetic needs, and is valuable because it is a source of personally meaningful and insightful experiences about our past. Unlike autobiographical memory, episodic memory is only weakly autonoetic. The relation between these two roles of memory is captured by the tension between a narrative and an accurate report.
6. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
César Schirmer dos Santos Episodic Memory, the Cotemporality Problem, and Common Sense
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Direct realists about episodic memory claim that a rememberer has direct contact with a past event. However, how is it possible to be acquainted with an event that ceased to exist? That is the so-called cotemporality problem. The standard solution, proposed by Sven Bernecker, is to distinguish between the occurrence of an event and the existence of an event: an event ceases to occur without ceasing to exist. That is the eternalist solution for the cotemporality problem. Nevertheless, some philosophers of memory claim that the adoption of an eternalist metaphysics of time would be too high a metaphysical price to pay to hold direct realist intuitions about memory. Although I agree with these critics, I will make two claims. First, that this kind of common sense argument is far from decisive. Second, that Bernecker’s proposal remains the best solution to the cotemporality problem.
7. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
André Bilbrough Memory and the True Self: When Moral Knowledge Can and Cannot be Forgotten
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Why is it that forgetting moral knowledge, unlike other paradigmatic examples of knowledge, seems so deeply absurd? Previous authors have given accounts whereby moral forgetting in itself either is uniformly absurd and impossible (Gilbert Ryle, Adam Bugeja) or is possible and only the speech act is absurd (Sarah McGrath). Considering findings in moral psychology and the experimental philosophy of personal identity, I argue that the knowledge of some moral truths—especially those that are emotional, widely held, subjectively important, and contribute to social relationships—cannot be forgotten because they’re too tightly tied to one’s true self. Moral knowledge at the level of individual propositions, when it does not have these attributes and so is not so tied to the agent’s identity, can sometimes be forgotten. I identify two such cases: (1) where the moral knowledge results partly from an emotional trigger that has been forgotten, and (2) where the moral knowledge results partly from a process of reflection that has been forgotten.
8. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Laura Arese Doing Justice to the Past: Memory and criticism in Herbert Marcuse
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In his inaugural lecture as director of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Frankfurt (1933), Horkheimer points out the need for a new understanding of history that avoids the contemporary versions of the Hegelian Verklärung. He synthesizes this challenge with an imperative: to do justice to past suffering. The result of this appeal can be found in the works of the members of the Frankfurt School in the form of multiple, even divergent, trains of thought that reach with unlike intensities the current debates on memory and its link with history. This paper focuses on three of these trains, which can be traced back to different periods of the work of Herbert Marcuse. It intends to systematize and present what can be considered alternative—although not necessarily contradictory—approaches aroused from the same concern over the critical power of nonreconciliatory memory: first, a genealogy inquiry that deconstructs the reified character of the given; second, a recollection of past images of happiness; and finally, a memory of the limits of all attainable freedom. Exploring these three moments, their shortcomings and tensions, may shed light on the complexity and present importance of the challenge they intend to face.
book reviews
9. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Kate McCallum Review of Alva Noë’s Strange Tools Indeed: Alva Noë and Art as Reorganisation
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10. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Steve Ross Review of Simon Kirchin’s Reading Parfit On What Matters
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11. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Jessica Logue Review of Bryan W. Van Norden’s Taking Back Philosophy
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12. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Monika Kirloskar-Steinbach Review of Vrinda Dalmiya’s Caring to Know: Comparative Care Ethics, Feminist Epistemology, and the Mahābhārata
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13. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Lavender McKittrick-Sweitzer Review of Monique Deveaux and Vida Panitch’s Exploitation: From Practice to Theory, edited by Monique Deveaux and Vida Panitch
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14. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Chris Jackson Review of Richard Swinburne’s Revelation: From Metaphor to Analogy and the Resurrection of God Incarnate
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