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On Memory And Reminiscense   


WE have, in the next place, to treat of Memory and Remembering,

considering its nature, its cause, and the part of the soul to which

this experience, as well as that of Recollecting, belongs. For the

persons who possess a retentive memory are not identical with those

who excel in power of recollection; indeed, as a rule, slow people

have a good memory, whereas those who are quick-witted and clever

are better at recollecting.

We must first form a true conception of these objects of memory, a

point on which mistakes are often made. Now to remember the future

is not possible, but this is an object of opinion or expectation

(and indeed there might be actually a science of expectation, like

that of divination, in which some believe); nor is there memory of the

present, but only sense-perception. For by the latter we know not

the future, nor the past, but the present only. But memory relates

to the past. No one would say that he remembers the present, when it

is present, e.g. a given white object at the moment when he sees it;

nor would one say that he remembers an object of scientific

contemplation at the moment when he is actually contemplating it,

and has it full before his mind;-of the former he would say only

that he perceives it, of the latter only that he knows it. But when

one has scientific knowledge, or perception, apart from the

actualizations of the faculty concerned, he thus 'remembers' (that the

angles of a triangle are together equal to two right angles); as to

the former, that he learned it, or thought it out for himself, as to

the latter, that he heard, or saw, it, or had some such sensible

experience of it. For whenever one exercises the faculty of

remembering, he must say within himself, 'I formerly heard (or

otherwise perceived) this,' or 'I formerly had this thought'.

Memory is, therefore, neither Perception nor Conception, but a state

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