Re: False Memory

From: HARNAD Stevan (
Date: Fri Jun 07 1996 - 20:04:32 BST

> Date: Mon, 27 May 1996 12:04:55 GMT
> From: "Di Virgilio, Giovanni" <>
> I would have thought the simple answer to this question is that we
> simply do not know if a memory is real.The "concept" of memory is
> merely a hypothetical construct and as such is theorised upon by using
> analogies or models.Therefore,memory is just a: "spatial metaphor"
> which describes the storage system we have to retain all past events
> and experiences that we encounter in our lives.

Fine, but it is not the concept of memory that this asks about but the
content of memory: How do can we know whether or not what we are
remembering is true?

> Neurobiology has made a great deal of progress in advancing our
> knowledge of the nervous system.However,even though we now know which
> areas of the brain are involved in memory(e.g hippocampi in long term
> memory),biological means can not explain the organisation or workings
> of memory.Therefore,memories remain non-physical entities in our
> minds.The best way of explaining memory is to produce testable theories
> of its organisation that can be tested by experimentation,such as free
> recall studies etc.

Unfortunately, this mostly misses the point, which is that there is no
way to know by introspection alone whether or not a memory is faithful.
This should be related to general problems of introspection, false
memory syndrome, mental timing, consciousness, reverse engineering. This
reply had little to do with the lectures, readings, or the themes of the
course. (It might have been a better idea to do a question that could
still appear on the exam.)

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