Autonoesis and belief in a personal past: an evolutionary theory of episodic memory indices

Review of Philosophy and Psychology 5 (3):427-447 (2014)
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In this paper I discuss philosophical and psychological treatments of the question "how do we decide that an occurrent mental state is a memory and not, say a thought or imagination?" This issue has proven notoriously difficult to resolve, with most proposed indices, criteria and heuristics failing to achieve consensus. Part of the difficulty, I argue, is that the indices and analytic solutions thus far offered seldom have been situated within a well-specified theory of memory function. As I hope to show, when such an approach is adopted, not only does a new, functionally-grounded answer emerge; we also gain insight into the adaptive significance of the process proposed to underwrite our belief in the memorial status of a mental state (i.e.,autonoetic awareness).

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Stanley Bernard Klein
University of California at Santa Barbara


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