Aristotle's Theories Of Memory

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Michael Rossington and Anne Whitehead in their book Theories of Memory (2007) chisels out a sharp contrast between memory and history, preferring memory as the pure and primitive form of history and seeing them almost as opposing entities. An observation made in the movie Mementostates: Memory can change the shape of a room; it can change thecolour of a car. And memories can be distorted. They're just aninterpretation, they're not a record, and they're irrelevant if youhave the facts. (qtd. Heiremans, Memory in Kazuo Ishiguro’sWhen We Were Orphans and A Pale View of Hills) Considering another instance from Stephen Greenblatt’s essay Resonance and Wonder (1990): “The Museum’s rich collections of synagogue art and the historic synagogue buildings…show more content…
Aristotle already remarked upon the difference between habitand conscious memory, although he did not call them that. He considered ‘remembering’ an action which can be performed by many animals, but only human beings can ‘recollect’, which can be doneconsciously and deliberately. To the Roman rhetoricians, memory was an indispensableasset. In his Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), John Locke identified the self withmemory. He saw one’s identity to be completely determined by one’s memory andsomeone who did not remember anything of his or her past had in fact no identity, orno sense of self. Mary Carruthers’ The Book of Memory (1990), offers fresh insights into the function of memory in the medieval world by drawing on instances relating to the role of memory in the works of Dante, Chaucer, and Aquinas to the symbolism of illuminated manuscripts. In the words of Carruthers: The difference is that whereas now geniuses are said to have creative imagination which they express in intricate reasoning and original discovery, in earlier times they were said to have richly retentive memories, which they expressed in intricate reasoning and original discovery.

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