What memory is

WIREs Cognitive Science 6 (1):1-38 (2015)
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Abstract
I argue that our current practice of ascribing the term “ memory ” to mental states and processes lacks epistemic warrant. Memory, according to the “received view”, is any state or process that results from the sequential stages of encoding, storage and retrieval. By these criteria, memory, or its footprint, can be seen in virtually every mental state we are capable of having. This, I argue, stretches the term to the breaking point. I draw on phenomenological, historical and conceptual considerations to make the case that an act of memory entails a direct, non-inferential feeling of re-acquaintance with one’s past. It does so by linking content retrieved from storage with autonoetic awareness during retrieval. On this view, memory is not the content of experience, but the manner in which that content is experienced. I discuss some theoretical and practical implications and advantages of adopting this more nuanced view of memory. -/-
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First archival date: 2014-06-24
Latest version: 15 (2014-12-10)
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