Affective memory: a little help from our imagination

In Kourken Michaelian, Dorothea Debus & Denis Perrin (eds.), New Directions in the Philosophy of Memory. New York: Routledge. pp. 139-156 (2018)
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Abstract

When we remember a past situation, the emotional import of the latter often transpires in a modified form at the phenomenological level of our present memory. When it does, we experience what is sometimes called an “affective memory.” Theorists of memories have disagreed about the status of affective memories. Sceptics claim that the relationship between memory and emotion can only be of two types: either the memory is about a past emotion (the emotion is part of what is remembered), or it causes a present emotion (the emotion is a separable effect of the memory). We argue that there is a third option, which points to an emotional way of representing the past situation. Drawing from Peter Goldie’s account of mental narratives, we show that three levels of mental perspective are involved in memories: the perspective of the represented subject (the character, if there is one), the perspective of the representing subject (the author), and the intermediary perspective of the narrator (who may remain virtual). Affective memories are cases in which the narrator’s emotional perspective has direct implications for the author’s emotional perspective, even if the former typically differs from the latter.

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Author Profiles

Jérôme Dokic
Institut Jean Nicod
Margherita Arcangeli
École des hautes études en sciences sociale

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