Autonoetic Consciousness: Re-considering the Role of Episodic Memory in Future-Oriented Self-Projection

Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 69 (2):381-401 (2016)
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Abstract

Following the seminal work of Ingvar (1985. “Memory for the future”: An essay on the temporal organization of conscious awareness. Human Neurobiology, 4, 127–136), Suddendorf (1994. The discovery of the fourth dimension: Mental time travel and human evolution. Master’s thesis. University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand), and Tulving (1985. Memory and consciousness. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne, 26, 1–12), exploration of the ability to anticipate and prepare for future contingencies that cannot be known with certainty has grown into a thriving research enterprise. A fundamental tenet of this line of inquiry is that future-oriented mental time travel, in most of its presentations, is underwritten by a property or an extension of episodic recollection. However, a careful conceptual analysis of exactly how episodic memory functions in this capacity has yet to be undertaken. In this paper I conduct such an analysis. Based on conceptual, phenomenological, and empirical considerations,I conclude that the autonoetic component of episodic memory, not episodic memory per se, is the causally determinative factor enabling an individual to project him or herself into a personal future.

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Stanely Bernard Klein
University of California at Santa Barbara