Posts Chapter 3 Memory: The Preservation and Reconstruction of the Past

Chapter 3 Memory: The Preservation and Reconstruction of the Past

Memory & the Past: A Basic Understand

We can’t say that memory is a store of knowledge and belief about the past. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have the capacity. Most of what is in our memory is this sort of knowledge and belief, though we do have the capacity to hold false knowledge and beliefs too.

We can receive knowledge & beliefs in an indirect way through testimony. I can learn history be reading a book, but it doesn’t mean I experienced any of the historical events. In this case I would have a past experience of reading the book or hearing someone speak of history.

Memorial was a tough term to understand, but essentially is something you experienced that has made it into your memory storage warehouse. It is contrasted by testimony because I can read a book or be told something, but it may never actually make it into that memory storage warehouse. I think of all the times I’m sitting at a test, and I try to think about what was on the chalk board in class, but it’s blank. If I were able to store that information in the warehouse, this would be known as a memory belief.

Three Modes of Memory

  1. Memory - We have memories
  2. Remembering - We remember
  3. Recalling - We sometimes recall, roughly call into our minds, which we have experienced.

Direct Realism of Memory

This is similar to naive realism of perception. The idea here is that when we remember an event, we just do remember it and it is as it seems to be to us. This view is one that is causal. There is a chain links to the remembered event.

If I saw Bob yesterday, then it must be because I am disposed to believe that I did.

The causal chain of remember can be broken. If I did something, but later cannot remember it - the chain is broken. There is no belief. A friend through testimony could tell me about the event creating a new causal chain. In this case I remember the event, but for a different reason. It’s not memorial.

Proposition memory about an event, does not entail event memory of it.

The problem with direct realism of memory is the same as naive realism. You can be fooled by illusion and it’s all the same as real events.

The Representative Theory of Memory

There’s an aspect of this similar to sense data (as we see internal images of perception). The idea have is that there are memory images. Not quite as vivid as perception, but something closer to imagination (residue of perception). We are said to remember an event when one true belief about it is grounded in a memory image, in a chain from our experience of an event. The better the memorial representation, the better the memory.

Memory Images

Like sense datum theory, the representative there of memory is indirect realism. The idea is we have these memory images of the past. Now, we don’t garner facts from these images, but they reacquaint us with the past event. Remembering incorrectly don’t mean we have a false belief. We have a grounded memory image, but some aspect about it produces a false believe about the detail.

An example would be remembering an event, but mistaken about the city it was in.

With the concept of hallucinations we can determine that there is no causal chain from an actual event to memory image, but some abnormal state.


Remembering doesn’t actually require an image as we can rifle off data about an event without visualizing it.

An example is your ability to describe the topic of a conversation with someone without having to hear some audio image of the conversation.

An issue one can have with misremembering is their imagination comes into play. I can bring visual experience into my conscious mind, but details, such as a shirt collar, could be pure imagination. The big problem with the representative theory of memory is that much remembering doesn’t necessarily come from a memory image or imagination. This means that the theory for remembering isn’t required for all remembering.

Phenomenalist Concept of Memory

The phenomenalist concept suffers from the same problems of the representative theory of memory, since the idea of memory image objects is part of phenomenalism. Remembering is a collection of images about an event the way a person believes about the event.

Adverbial Conception of Memory

Adverbial theory will take remembering to be epistemically direct. It’s not on my premise that I believe I have cut the grass. My belief is grounded in memory as a preserver of beliefs and other details - not in other premises that support such a memory belief. The adverbial view of memory, as per remembering events, is expressed as the following:

  1. Occurently (actively) remembering

Realizing this manifestation is linked to an event by an unbroken causal chain.

Example: Observing a cat, it is a perceptual manifestation and describing this manifestation you are realizing a memorial event.

The memorial experience by typical manifestation can be broken down to the following:

(a) Imaging processes about event. (b) Memory beliefs are formed about it. (c) Consider the propositions so believed.

Other realizations exist such as recognizing a picture of the event.

  1. Dispositionally (passively) remembering

Remembering an event without a manifestation. Though I could manifest it, while my mind is occupied on other things.

Example: I know I went to University. I don’t need to manifest a perceptual image to know this fact - I remember this.

Another way of thinking about occurrent vs dispositional is thinking of an elastic band. The property of stretching the band is dispositional. It’s something we know and don’t have a manifestation to know that it has this property. The act of stretching the band is occurrent, as we’re having an experience of the property of stretching. You’ll also notice that the act of stretching is occurrent plus we see the dispositional property.

Just to solidify the point about dispositional remembering during occurrent remembering could also be illustrated as such: I have a manifestation of a conversation with my friend - which is occurrent. I may never manifest we had this conversation in a car, but remember it none the less.

Propositional remembering is remembering that. Most propositional remembering is dispositional. When these believes are called up actively (active propositional remembering) it becomes an experience that is of a memorial way.

Does occurrent remembering require some sort of imaging? (Not like sense datum image object sort of way)

First, consider a memory - the event of meeting someone - and you do it in an actively remembering event. Second, you ask if you’re imaging. when you do this, you image.

Basically, you’ve called up a memory and inspected the results of this effort. You could be imaging based on the way you invoked remembering, so this procedure of evoking memories of the past is defective as a way of determining whether remembering requires imaging.

Epistemological Cantrality of Memory

Memory is a source of believes, like a warehouse and what we store in it. Our memory preserves beliefs and allows us to call things. It also allows us to draw on our beliefs to supply premises in reasoning.

Memory beliefs are of propositions we remember to be true, which constitutes knowledge. So memory when it is a source of what is remember, commonly yields both knowledge that and knowledge of.

If I remember meeting you, I know that I remember you - knowledge that. I may also remember you, meaning I met you at least once before, even though I may not recognize meeting you now - knowledge of.

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