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Title: Aristotle on Remembering and Recollecting
Authors: Parsons, Rachel Gillian
Advisors: Lorenz, Hendrik
Contributors: Philosophy Department
Keywords: Aristotle
Subjects: Philosophy
Classical studies
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Abstract In the De Memoria, Aristotle offers a rigorous and carefully delineated account of memory, one that in my view has not yet been properly understood. My dissertation rectifies current misunderstandings of Aristotle’s account and demonstrates that Aristotle conceives of remembering as a means of cognitive access to the external world akin to perceiving and thinking. For Aristotle, the panorama of reality includes the past (in addition to the present and future) and memory is the cognitive power in virtue of which we apprehend objects in the past. Chapter 1 argues that for Aristotle, remembering is simply the awareness of objects in the past. This conception of remembering excludes much that today is considered part of memory, such as procedural memory and the memory of unqualifiedly intelligible objects (e.g., scientific theorems). Chapter 2 argues that Aristotle’s limited conception of remembering is assuaged by his robust account of recollection, according to which humans uniquely have the ability to search for information stored in the mind. Recollection often takes place for the sake of remembering, but it is also used to facilitate perceiving, imagining, thinking, and understanding. On Aristotle’s account, when students display their feats of learning on an exam, they are recollecting, not remembering, the objects of their learning. In Chapter 3 I support my argument of the first two chapters with a careful analysis of Aristotle's remarks on slow people and fast and good learners at the outset of the De Memoria. Specifically, Aristotle says that slow people are better at remembering, whereas fast and good leaners are better at recollecting. I take these remarks to stem from Plato's observation in the Theaetetus that some people are good at learning but bad at remembering. Plato somehow fails to see the implications of his observation. For it suggests that some people are good at recollecting but bad at remembering, and this in turn suggests that memory and recollection are distinct powers of the soul. In the De Memoria, Aristotle takes it upon himself to correct Plato's mistake.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Philosophy

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