Making Epistemologists Nervous: Relational Memory and Psychological Individualism

Hypatia 34 (3):405-423 (2019)
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We cannot rethink the ethical and political dimensions of memory—especially its role in constituting persons and identities—without rethinking the nature of memory itself. I first describe a traditional epistemological view of memory, according to which memory is a faculty for preserving knowledge of the past, and then juxtapose a relational theory of memory developed by Sue Campbell. The relational theory is represented in terms of a distinction between actions and achievements; this distinction enables us to both clarify and defend the shift from an epistemological to a political conception of memory. On the resulting view, accuracy, not truth, is the appropriate norm for evaluating memory, and remembering is no longer conceived as an interior process. In the penultimate section I confront an objection to a relational theory of memory—and to relational theories of cognition generally—and suggest a strategy of response.



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Rockney Jacobsen
Wilfrid Laurier University

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