Episodic memory, the cotemporality problem, and common sense

Essays in Philosophy 19 (2) (2018)
César Schirmer Dos Santos
Federal University of Santa Maria
Direct realists about episodic memory claim that a rememberer has direct contact with a past event. But how is it possible to be acquainted with an event that ceased to exist? That’s the so-called cotemporality problem. The standard solution, proposed by Sven Bernecker, is to distinguish between the occurrence of an event and the existence of an event: an event ceases to occur without ceasing to exist. That’s the eternalist solution for the cotemporality problem. Nevertheless, some philosophers of memory claim that the adoption of an eternalist metaphysics of time would be too high a metaphysical price to be paid to hold direct realist intuitions about memory. Although I agree with these critics, I will try to show two things. First, that this kind of “common sense argument” is far from decisive. Second, that Bernecker’s proposal remains the best solution to the cotemporality problem.
Keywords episodic memory  cotemporality  eternalism
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