Home > TOK > From “Memory” by Sven Bernecker and Aaron Bogart

From “Memory” by Sven Bernecker and Aaron Bogart

November 26, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

Recent philosophers have typically imposed a tripartite division on the types of memory: habit memory, personal memory, and factual memory (Zemach 1968, Locke 1971). Habit memory is memory for the sort of everyday procedures one experiences and carries out; an example would be “remembering” how to get home from school. Personal memory is memory for events that one has personally experienced; an example would be one’s witnessing the fall of the Berlin Wall. Finally, factual memory is memory for facts; an example would be remembering that 2 + 2 = 4. Philosophers discussing the relation between memory and personal identity tend to focus on personal memory, while those who discuss epistemological issues tend to focus on factual memory. This division can raise a worry, however; what if one remembers that the Berlin Wall fell in 1989? Does one remember personally here (because one witnessed the fall of the Wall), or is it factual memory (because one has had this reinforced since)? Locke 1971 is perhaps the best introduction to, or overview of, the philosophy of memory; it covers the metaphysics of memory in an accessible manner, as well as various epistemological issues. Malcolm 1975 also provides an excellent overview of some of the philosophical issues surrounding memory. Warnock 1987provides a readable introduction to some philosophers’ (e.g., Sartre’s) theories of memory and discusses personal identity and causation. Senor 2005 provides a more updated synopsis of the philosophy of memory, and Sutton 2012 offers useful bibliographies. The most recent book-length treatment of the philosophy of memory is Bernecker 2010.

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