Beyond the memory-trace paradox and the fallacy of the homunculus. A hypothesis concerning the relationship between memory, consciousness and temporality

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Abstract:

Most theories and models of memory are based on two assumptions that contain theoretical problems. These problems are reflected in the memory-trace paradox, which consists in believing that the past is contained in the memory trace, and in the fallacy of the homunculus, which consists in assuming the existence of an unconscious intentional subject. We will discuss these and present an alternative hypothesis concerning the relationship between memory, consciousness and temporality. This holds that consciousness is not a unitary dimension, but is the set of distinct and original modes to address the object. Among the modes of consciousness, a distinction is made between Knowing Consciousness (KC) and Temporal Consciousness (TC). KC describes the mode of addressing the object in order to know it. TC describes the mode of consciousness that temporalizes its object according the subordinate structures of temporality, the past, the present and the future. Finally it is shown how the hypothesis accounts for a variety of memory disorders and phenomena while avoiding the memory-trace paradox and the fallacy of the homunculus.

Keywords: Consciousness; confabulation; intentionality; memory; time

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: U.324 INSERM, Centre Paul Broca, 2ter rue d'Alesia, 75014 Paris France.

Publication date: January 1, 2001

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