Consciousness Thought

Memory and the Self: Phenomenology, Science and by Mark Rowlands

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By Mark Rowlands

The concept our thoughts, in a few feel, make us who we're, is a standard one-and in no way unbelievable. in any case, what can make us who we're if no longer the issues we've got skilled, inspiration, felt and wanted on those idiosyncratic pathways via house and time that we name lives? and the way will we maintain those stories, options, emotions and wishes if now not via reminiscence? however, such a lot of what we've skilled has been forgotten. and there's now a substantial physique of proof that means that, even if we expect we take note, our stories usually are distorted, occasionally past popularity. think writing your autobiography, purely to discover that that almost all of it's been redacted, and masses of the remaining considerably rewritten. What may carry this e-book jointly? What could make it the unified and coherent account of a life?

The solution, Mark Rowlands argues, lies, in part hidden, in a mostly unrecognized kind of memory-Rilkean reminiscence. A Rilkean reminiscence is produced whilst the content material of a reminiscence is misplaced however the act of remembering endures, in a brand new, mutated, shape: a temper, a sense, or a behavioral disposition. Rilkean stories play an important position in maintaining the self jointly within the face of the poverty and inaccuracy of the contents of reminiscence. yet Rilkean stories are vital not only as a result of what they're, but in addition as a result of what they have been sooner than they grew to become such stories. Acts of remembering sculpt the contents of stories out of the slabs of remembered episodes. Our acts of remembering make sure that we're within the content material of every of our memories-present within the approach a sculptor is found in his creation-even whilst this content material is sadly sparse and endemically inaccurate.

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Extra resources for Memory and the Self: Phenomenology, Science and Autobiography

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102–​106. Memory a nd Forget t ing [ 29 ] 30 of memory breaks down, the role of the act of remembering can be made explicit. This allows us to understand its importance vis-​à-​v is the content of memory and so helps us understand how memories can make us who we are. In the end, we are all held together by our Rilkean memories, whether incipient or not. At least, that is where I am going. 38 38. Here is one, more general way of looking at the situation. Suppose we incline towards the view that the content of a mental state is identical with the meaning of the sentence that follows the “that”-​c lause employed in the ascription of that state.

There are two distinct approaches one might take with regard to the inadequacy of these typologies. One might opt for radical overhaul. 2 Or one might be content to survey and identify the failings of current typologies, with a view to injecting them, in certain critical places, with clarity sufficient for the purposes of this book. I shall pursue this latter strategy. 2 PROCEDUR AL AND DECL AR ATIVE MEMORY Procedural memory is memory of how to do something: play the piano, ride a bicycle, hit a top-​spin backhand and so on.

Indeed, whether we should even regard them as memories is not entirely obvious—​and, in fact, largely unimportant for my purposes. Memories or not, these mutated survivors, I shall argue, can place a person in a concrete and significant relation with her past, and as such can play an important role in making her the person she is. An act of mutation requires a starting point: something from which a Rilkean memory might mutate. This starting point must satisfy two conditions. First, it must provide an intelligible point of origin: it must be the sort of thing out of which a Rilkean memory might plausibly be thought to mutate.

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