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Remembering events and representing time

Boyle, Alexandria ORCID: 0000-0001-8827-5479 (2021) Remembering events and representing time. Synthese, 199 (1-2). 2505 - 2524. ISSN 0039-7857

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Identification Number: 10.1007/s11229-020-02896-6


Episodic memory—memory for personally experienced past events—seems to afford a distinctive kind of cognitive contact with the past. This makes it natural to think that episodic memory is centrally involved in our understanding of what it is for something to be in the past, or to be located in time—that it is either necessary or sufficient for such understanding. If this were the case, it would suggest certain straightforward evidential connections between temporal cognition and episodic memory in nonhuman animals. In this paper, I argue that matters are more complicated than this. Episodic memory is memory for events and not for the times they occupy. As such, it is dissociable from temporal understanding. This is not to say that episodic memory and temporal cognition are unrelated, but that the relationship between them cannot be straightforwardly captured by claims about necessity and sufficiency. This should inform our theoretical predictions about the manifestations of episodic memory in nonhuman behaviour.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2020 The Author
Divisions: LSE
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2022 14:24
Last Modified: 05 Jul 2024 22:15

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