What is the function of episodic memory?
Johannes, B. Mahr (Harvard University), Johannes, B. Mahr (Harvard University)

part of: Bochum-Grenoble Memory Colloquium
October 29, 2020, 4:15pm - 5:45pm
Ruhr-Universität Bochum / Université Grenoble Alpes


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Université Grenoble Alpes
Ruhr-Universität Bochum
Ruhr-Universität Bochum

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Abstract: Accounts of episodic memory function differ according to whether they target ‘memory’ or ‘remembering’. While ‘memory’ refers to the capacity to encode, store, and retrieve information (a ‘preservative’, ‘diachronic’ activity), ‘remembering’ describes the psychological activity of generating a representation about the past in the present (a ‘generative’, ‘synchronic’ activity). Based on this distinction, I will argue that an account of episodic memory function needs to be an account of the function of ‘remembering’ rather than ‘memory’. Such an account, however, requires us to proceed from ‘form’ to ‘function’; that is, it requires us to first specify the features of the kind of representations that remembering generates before we can ask why it might do so. After providing a characterization of the representational structure of remembering I will evaluate whether the most common views of episodic memory function can account for its form. It will turn out that neither preservationism (the idea that episodic memory must be for recalling the past), nor simulationism (the ideat that episodic memory must be for imagining the future) can adequately account for the representational structure of remembering. Instead, I will propose an alternative account according to which remembering functions to stabilize human communication about the past.

Zoom meeting room details:

Link: https://univ-grenoble-alpes-fr.zoom.us/j/95146807125?pwd=TWpMSDVCdVJ6cmVkVGVnUVFPZjRvUT09

Meeting ID: 951 4680 7125

Passcode:  631879

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