Dissertation, Macquarie University (2015)
This thesis is intended to analyze a mental phenomenon widely neglected in current philosophical discussions: personal memories. The first part presents a general framework to better understand what personal memories are, how we access our personal past and what we access about our personal past. Chapter 1 introduces traditional theories of memory: direct realism and representationalism in their different versions, as well as some objections. I defend here a particular form of representationalism that is based on the distinction between content, intentional object and ontological object. Chapter 2 explores the possible contents of our personal memories, which prove to be heterogeneous, whereas chapter 3 analyses their possible intentional objects, with a special focus on past events.
The second part of the thesis explores an aspect of our personal memories that was omitted in the first part: the senses in which our personal past is apprehended as personal. Chapter 4 examines the way in which the “self” intervenes in the construction of our personal memories. Chapters 5 and 6 focus on the analysis of what seems to be the most subjective aspect of our memories, that is, the emotions and feelings of our past experiences. In these last two chapters, I analyze the different interactions that can take place between memories and emotions and defend the idea that there can be emotional memories that are reducible neither to a propositional memory nor an occurrent and present emotion.
The overall intention of this thesis is twofold. First, I aim to show to the philosophical community that there is still a lot to be said and discussed about memory as a mental phenomenon. And second, I intend to emphasize the importance of bringing into the philosophical discussions about the mind ideas coming from different philosophical traditions as well as ideas and empirical data coming from scientific research.