Remembering as a mental action

In Kourken Michaelian, Dorothea Debus & Denis Perrin (eds.), New Directions in the Philosophy of Memory. Routledge. pp. 75-96 (2018)
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Abstract
Many philosophers consider that memory is just a passive information retention and retrieval capacity. Some information and experiences are encoded, stored, and subsequently retrieved in a passive way, without any control or intervention on the subject’s part. In this paper, we will defend an active account of memory according to which remembering is a mental action and not merely a passive mental event. According to the reconstructive account, memory is an imaginative reconstruction of past experience. A key feature of the reconstructive account is that given the imperfect character of memory outputs, some kind of control is needed. Metacognition is the control of mental processes and dispositions. Drawing from recent work on the normativity of automaticity and automatic control, we distinguish two kinds of metacognitive control: top-down, reflective control, on the one hand, and automatic, intuitive, feeling-based control on the other. Thus, we propose that whenever the mental process of remembering is controlled by means of intuitive or feeling-based metacognitive processes, it is an action.
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Archival date: 2017-11-03
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