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On Memory And Reminiscense   


movement of the seal were to impinge on running water; while there are

others in whom, owing to the receiving surface being frayed, as

happens to (the stucco on) old (chamber) walls, or owing to the

hardness of the receiving surface, the requisite impression is not

implanted at all. Hence both very young and very old persons are

defective in memory; they are in a state of flux, the former because

of their growth, the latter, owing to their decay. In like manner,

also, both those who are too quick and those who are too slow have bad

memories. The former are too soft, the latter too hard (in the texture

of their receiving organs), so that in the case of the former the

presented image (though imprinted) does not remain in the soul,

while on the latter it is not imprinted at all.

But then, if this truly describes what happens in the genesis of

memory, (the question stated above arises:) when one remembers, is

it this impressed affection that he remembers, or is it the

objective thing from which this was derived? If the former, it would

follow that we remember nothing which is absent; if the latter, how is

it possible that, though perceiving directly only the impression, we

remember that absent thing which we do not perceive? Granted that

there is in us something like an impression or picture, why should the

perception of the mere impression be memory of something else, instead

of being related to this impression alone? For when one actually

remembers, this impression is what he contemplates, and this is what

he perceives. How then does he remember what is not present? One might

as well suppose it possible also to see or hear that which is not

present. In reply, we suggest that this very thing is quite

conceivable, nay, actually occurs in experience. A picture painted

on a panel is at once a picture and a likeness: that is, while one and

the same, it is both of these, although the 'being' of both is not the

same, and one may contemplate it either as a picture, or as a

likeness. Just in the same way we have to conceive that the mnemonic

presentation within us is something which by itself is merely an

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