Extended and constructive remembering: two notes on Martin and Deutscher

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Martin and Deutscher’s remarkable 1966 paper ‘Remembering’ still offers great riches to memory researchers across distinctive traditions, both in its methodological ambition (successfully marrying phenomenological and causal discourses) and in its content. In this short discussion, after briefly setting the paper in its context, we hone in on two live and under-explored issues which have gained attention recently under new labels – the extended mind hypothesis, and the constructive nature of memory. We suggest that Martin and Deutscher’s causal analysis of memory is compatible with the idea that activities of remembering may be distributed across heterogeneous social and external resources, focussing in on their neglected example of creatures who ‘remember as we do’ as long as they carry round metal boxes which are given to them at birth. We then argue that the causal analysis is in some tension with the extent to which remembering is a constructive activity, because there may be no clear way to determine the appropriate ‘limits of accuracy’ within which a past event or experience must be represented.
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Archival date: 2015-11-21
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