Episodic memory as enactive know-how: cognitive, affective, and conative resources of remembered experience

Russell Downham

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Abstract

When philosophers and psychologists examine the knowledge contained in episodic memories of past experiences, they usually construe this knowledge in representational terms. Most commonly, episodic memory is thought to represent an eye-witness account of events in the rememberer's life; discussion then centres on the question of how reliably memory represents the past. In counterpoint to this dominant research paradigm, it is sometimes observed that when the remembered past diverges from the actual past, these apparent 'misrepresentations' may positively reveal the personal meaning of the rememberer's experience (Fraser, 1984). Episodic memory is thus acknowledged to represent either the past as it was experienced, or, alternatively, the meaning the experience has for the rememberer. In this brief paper I will show how episodic memory's claims to knowledge extend beyond the facts or meaning of the experiences represented, to include also the cognitive, affective and conative knowhow elicited in the remembering of those experiences. In episodic remembering, the rememberer mentally re-enacts the thoughts, feelings, and intentions that constitute the firstperson perspective of their remembered past. Following the momentum of intentional connections through which this remembered perspective is re-enacted, the rememberer is guided to think, feel, and will, in ways they might otherwise not know how to do from their present perspective, in their present situation. I will briefly discuss examples of each of these three varieties of enactive know-how -- cognitive, affective, and conative -- showing how they are similarly enabled by the re-enactment of our remembered experiences. By suggesting how rememberers might employ the cognitive know-how contained in episodic remembering, I also hope to show why this is an area deserving of more attention from researchers interested in the functions of episodic memory in everyday life.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationASCS09
Subtitle of host publicationproceedings of the 9th Conference of the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science
EditorsWayne Christensen, Elizabeth Schier, John Sutton
Place of PublicationNorth Ryde, NSW
PublisherMacquarie Centre for Cognitive Science
Pages81-83
Number of pages3
ISBN (Print)9780646529189
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes
EventConference of the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science (9th : 2009) - Sydney
Duration: 30 Sep 20092 Oct 2009

Conference

ConferenceConference of the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science (9th : 2009)
CitySydney
Period30/09/092/10/09

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2009 by the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science. Publisher version archived with the permission of the Editor, ASCS09 : Proceedings of the 9th Conference of the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science. This copy is available for individual, non-commercial use. Permission to reprint/republish this version for other uses must be obtained from the publisher.

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