An Essay on the Ontological Foundations and Psychological Realization of Forgetting

Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice 6 (292-305) (2019)
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I argue that appreciation of the phenomenon of forgetting requires serious attention to its origins and place in nature. This, in turn, necessitates metaphysical inquiry as well as empirical backing – a combination likely to be eschewed by psychological orthodoxy. But, if we hope to avoid the conceptual vacuity that characterizes too much of contemporary psychological inquiry (e.g., Klein, 2012, 2014a, 2015a, 2016a), a “big picture” approach to phenomena of interest is essential. Adopting this investigative posture turns the “received view” of the relation between remembering and forgetting on its head: Rather than treated as the result of breakdowns and limitations of biologically engineered systems of remembering, forgetting is accorded elevated status as the driving force behind the evolution of organic systems of information retention.

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Stanley Bernard Klein
University of California, Santa Barbara


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