The present paper offers a philosophical discussion of phenomena which in the empirical literature have recently been subsumed under the concept of ‘mental time travel’. More precisely, the paper considers differences and similarities between two cases of ‘mental time travel’, recollective memories (‘R-memories’) of past events on the one hand, and sensory imaginations (‘S-imaginations’) of future events on the other. It develops and defends the claim that, because a subject who R-remembers a past event is experientially aware of a past (...) particular event, while a subject who S-imagines a future event could not possibly be experientially aware of a future particular event, R-memories of past events and S-imaginations of future events are ultimately mental occurrences of two different kinds. (shrink)
Sometimes we remember past objects or events in a vivid, experiential way. The present paper addresses some fundamental questions about the metaphysics of such experiential or ‘recollective’ memories. More specifically, it develops the ‘Relational Account’ of recollective memory, which consists of the following three claims. A subject who recollectively remembers a past object or event stands in an experiential relation to the relevant past object or event. The R‐remembered object or event itself is a part of the R‐memory; that is, (...) the subject's present R‐memory is partly constituted by the relevant past object or event. When a subject R‐remembers a past object, the past object is a constitutive part of the conscious experience itself; that is, the object is immediately available to the subject in conscious experience. In developing the Relational Account, the present paper hopes to make a substantial contribution to any attempt to account for the nature of recollective memory. Furthermore, in order to explain how a subject could understand the beliefs that she forms about the past on the basis of an R‐memory, and how a subject could, on the basis of an R‐memory, gain any knowledge about the past, we arguably also need to rely on the Relational Account of recollective memory. Thus, the Relational Account will also play an important role in an attempt to account for various other ways in which a subject might be related to the past in general, and to her own past in particular. Standing in such relations to the past is, in turn, a central feature of our human existence. Ultimately, therefore, the Relational Account of recollective memory should also play a crucial role in furthering our understanding of ourselves, and of our own existence in time. (shrink)
In their paper "Remembering," first published in the Philosophical Review in 1966, Martin and Deutscher develop what has since come to be known as the Causal Theory of Memory. The core claim of the Causal Theory of Memory runs as follows: If someone remembers something, whether it be "public," such as a car accident, or "private," such as an itch, then the following criteria must be fulfilled: 1. Within certain limits of accuracy he represents that past thing. 2. I f (...) the thing was "public," then he observed what he now represents. If the thing was "private," then it was his. 3. His past experience of the thing was operative in producing a state or successive states in him finally operative in producing his representation. These three statements express the condition which we consider to be separately necessary and jointly sufficient, if an event is to be an instance of remembering. (shrink)
The following paper considers one important feature of our experiential or ‘recollective’ memories, namely their spatial perspectival characteristics. I begin by considering the ‘Past-Dependency-Claim’, which states that every recollective memory (or ‘R-memory’) has its spatial perspectival characteristics in virtue of the subject’s present awareness of the spatial perspectival characteristics of a relevant past perceptual experience. Although the Past-Dependency-Claim might for various reasons seem particularly attractive, I show that it is false. I then proceed to develop and defend the ‘Present-Dependency-Claim’, namely (...) the claim that the spatial perspectival characteristics of an R-memory depend on the spatial perspectival characteristics of perceptual experiences that the subject has at the time at which the R-memory occurs. Lastly, I discuss the phenomenon of so-called ‘observer-memories’, which presents a special challenge for any attempt to account for the spatial perspectival characteristics of R-memories. I argue that we have no good reason to deny that the relevant experiences should count as memories, and I show that we can account for the spatial perspectival characteristics of observer-memories with the help of the ‘Present-Dependency-Claim’. More generally, the paper shows that certain events that occur in a subject’s mental life (namely, a subject’s R-memories) are necessarily dependent on other events that occur in the relevant subject’s mental life (namely, on certain perceptual experiences). This more general conclusion in turn should be relevant for any attempt to develop an appropriate account of a subject’s mental life as a whole. (shrink)
We sometimes experience emotions which are directed at past events (or situations) which we witnessed at the time when they occurred (or obtained). The present paper explores the role which such "autobiographically past-directed emotions" (or "APD-emotions") play in a subject's mental life. A defender of the "Memory-Claim" holds that an APD-emotion is a memory, namely a memory of the emotion which the subject experienced at the time when the event originally occurred (or the situation obtained) towards which the APD-emotion is (...) directed. On this view, APD-emotions might play an important role in our acquiring knowledge about our own past emotions, which renders the view rather attractive. However, as I show in the present paper, none of the various possible versions of the Memory-Claim are tenable. This leaves us with the "Universal-New-Emotion-Claim", according to which all APD-emotions are new emotional responses to the past events (or situations) towards which the relevant APD-emotions are directed. Further consideration of the "Universal-New-Emotion-Claim" shows that while APD-emotions do not play the epistemological role they could have played had some version of the Memory-Claim turned out to be true, a subject's APD-emotions nevertheless do play a vital role in a subject's mental life: they help the subject to develop a balanced sense of self. (shrink)
The present article aims to show that a subject can only fully grasp the concept of the past if she has some experiential, or recollective, memories of particular past events. More specifically, I argue that (1) in order for a subject to understand the concept of the past, it is necessary that the subject understand the concept of a particular past event in such a way that it might contribute to her understanding of the concept of the past. (2) But (...) then, in order for a subject to understand the concept of a particular past event in such a way that it might contribute to her understanding of the concept of the past, it is necessary that the subject have some recollective memories of particular past events. (C) Hence, a subject can only understand the concept of the past if she has some recollective memories of particular past events. I defend the premises of the present argument against various objections, indicate why we should accept both premises, and accordingly end by endorsing the argument's conclusion. (shrink)
Memory can play two quite different roles in grief. Memories involving a deceased loved one can make them feel either enjoyably present, or especially and painfully absent. In this paper, we consider what makes it possible for memory to play these two different roles, both in grief and more generally. We answer this question by appeal to the phenomenological nature of vivid remembering, and the context in which such memories occur. We argue that different contexts can make salient different aspects (...) of memory's phenomenological nature, thus making what is remembered sometimes feel pleasantly 'present' again, and sometimes painfully absent. (shrink)
The present paper considers the question whether, and if so how, a subject's full attention to an object which she interacts with might have value. More specifically, I defend the claim that in order for a subject's activity to have value, it is sufficient that the subject give her full attention to the object towards which the activity is directed.
Although philosophers have explored memory since antiquity, recent years have seen the birth of philosophy of memory as a distinct field. This book—the first of its kind—charts emerging directions of research in the field. The book's nineteen newly-commissioned chapters develop novel theories of remembering and forgetting, analyze the phenomenology and content of memory, debate issues in the ethics and epistemology of remembering, and explore the relationship between memory and affectivity. Written by leading researchers in the philosophy of memory, the chapters (...) collectively present an exciting vision of the future of this dynamic area of research. (shrink)
The present paper considers our ability to ‘shape our own mental lives’; more specifically, it considers the claim that subjects sometimes can and do engage in ‘mental self-regulation’, that is, that subjects sometimes can be, and are, actively involved with their own mental lives in a goal-directed way. This ability of mental self-regulation has been rather neglected by contemporary philosophers of mind, but I show why it deserves careful philosophical attention. In order to further our understanding of the nature of (...) the phenomenon of mental self-regulation and to locate it within the wider context of our everyday lives and the world we live in, I proceed to develop some conditions which need to be met in order for a subject to be able to engage in mental self-regulation. In developing those conditions we find that compared to the physical realm, our mental lives are a rather elusive domain in the face of attempts at intervention, and our ability to intervene in our own mental lives is rather fragile. We also find that our ability to regulate our own mental lives in many cases depends on our possession of mental skills and mental know-how. Both these observations in turn throw new light on our understanding of the nature of the human mind. (shrink)
This introductory chapter provides an overview of the chapters making up the book, which are grouped into six sections: challenges and alternatives to the causal theory of memory; activity and passivity in remembering; the affective dimension of memory; memory in groups; memory failures: concepts and ethical implications; and the content and phenomenology of episodic and semantic memory.