A direct realist alternative to the traditional conception of memory

Behaviorism 9 (2):227-40 (1981)
In this paper we criticize the commonly accepted theory of memory, and offer an alternative. According to the traditional view, memory is a stored mental representation of things past. We show, through an analysis of a single act of recognition, the logical oddities to which this view leads. Since, however, these are generally ignored, we also consider those characteristics of the traditional view which apparently make it attractive to those who hold it, namely its consonance with the commonly held conception of time, its explanation for the fallibility of memory, and its way of making behavior predictable. We then present the alternative view, the direct realist theory. According to it, there is no such thing as a stored mental representation. The theory redefines memory as the perception of sequential structure, and in so doing successfully treats of the fallibility of memory and the necessity for making behavior predictable. Moreover, and perhaps most importantly, it does not lead to the logical difficulties of the traditional theory
Keywords Behavior  Empiricism  Epistemology  Physiology  Psychology  Pavlov  Skinner, B
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