No trace beyond their name? Affective memories, a forgotten concept.

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It seems natural to think that emotional experiences associated with a memory of a past event are new and present emotional states triggered by the remembered event. This common conception has nonetheless been challenged at the beginning of the 20th century by intellectuals who considered that emotions can be encoded and retrieved, and that emotional aspects linked to memories of the personal past need not necessary to be new emotional responses caused by the act of recollection. They called this specific kind of memories “affective memories” and defended their existence. My aim here is to expound the historical background of this debate as well as the characterization and development of the notion of affective memory since its first inception. I aim to show that although the debate was left unresolved and the term disappeared from academy around 1930, many of the characterizations of the nature of emotions and memory done by the advocates of affective memory have reappeared in the scientific agenda and been further developed during the last decades.
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First archival date: 2020-11-07
Latest version: 2 (2021-05-13)
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