Cartesian critters can't remember

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 69:72-85 (2018)
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Descartes held the following view of declarative memory: to remember is to reconstruct an idea that you intellectually recognize as a reconstruction. Descartes countenanced two overarching varieties of declarative memory. To have an intellectual memory is to intellectually reconstruct a universal idea that you recognize as a reconstruction, and to have a sensory memory is to neurophysiologically reconstruct a particular idea that you recognize as a reconstruction. Sensory remembering is thus a capacity of neither ghosts nor machines, but only of human beings qua mind-body unions. This interpretation unifies Descartes’s various remarks (and conspicuous silences) about remembering, from the 1628 Rules for the Direction of the Mind through the suppressed-in-1633 Treatise of Man to the 1649 Passions of the Soul. It also rebuts a prevailing thesis in the current secondary literature—that Cartesian critters can remember—while incorporating the textual evidence for that thesis—Descartes’s detailed descriptions of the corporeal mechanisms that construct sensory memories.

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Devin Sanchez Curry
West Virginia University

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Scientia, diachronic certainty, and virtue.Saja Parvizian - 2021 - Synthese 198 (10):9165-9192.

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References found in this work

Leviathan.Thomas Hobbes - 1904 - Harmondsworth,: Penguin Books. Edited by C. B. Macpherson.
Brainstorms: Philosophical Essays on Mind and Psychology.Daniel C. Dennett (ed.) - 1978 - Cambridge, Massachusetts: Bradford Books.
The philosophical writings of Descartes.René Descartes - 1984 - New York: Cambridge University Press.

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