Memory, past and self

Synthese 160 (1):103-121 (2008)
The purpose of this essay is to determine how we should construe the content of memories. First, I distinguish two features of memory that a construal of mnemic content should respect. These are the ‘attribution of pastness’ feature (a subject is inclined to believe of those events that she remembers that they happened in the past) and the ‘attribution of existence’ feature (a subject is inclined to believe that she existed at the time that those events that she remembers took place). Next, I distinguish two kinds of theories of memory, which I call ‘perceptual’ and ‘self-based’ theories. I argue that those theories that belong to the first kind but not the second one have trouble accommodating the attribution of existence. And theories that belong to the second kind but not the first one leave the attribution of pastness unexplained. I then discuss two different theories that are both perceptual and self-based, which I eventually reject. Finally, I propose a perceptual, self-based theory that can account for both the attribution of pastness and the attribution of past existence.
Keywords Intentionality  Phenomenology  Memory  Time  Self
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