ISBN: 9780262334570 | 312 pp. | March 2016

Mental Time Travel

Episodic Memory and Our Knowledge of the Personal Past

In this book, Kourken Michaelian builds on research in the psychology of memory to develop an innovative philosophical account of the nature of remembering and memory knowledge. Current philosophical approaches to memory rest on assumptions that are incompatible with the rich body of theory and data coming from psychology. Michaelian argues that abandoning those assumptions will result in a radically new philosophical understanding of memory. His novel, integrated account of episodic memory, memory knowledge, and their evolution makes a significant step in that direction.

Michaelian situates episodic memory as a form of mental time travel and outlines a naturalistic framework for understanding it. Drawing on research in constructive memory, he develops an innovative simulation theory of memory; finding no intrinsic difference between remembering and imagining, he argues that to remember is to imagine the past. He investigates the reliability of simulational memory, focusing on the adaptivity of the constructive processes involved in remembering and the role of metacognitive monitoring; and he outlines an account of the evolution of episodic memory, distinguishing it from the forms of episodic-like memory demonstrated in animals.

Memory research has become increasingly interdisciplinary. Michaelian’s account, built systematically on the findings of empirical research, not only draws out the implications of these findings for philosophical theories of remembering but also offers psychologists a framework for making sense of provocative experimental results on mental time travel.

Table of Contents

  1. Preface
  2. Acknowledgments
  3. I. Epistemology and Human Memory
  4. 1. Three Questions about Memory
  5. 2. Situating Episodic Memory
  6. 3. Memory Knowledge
  7. II. Episodic Memory as Mental Time Travel
  8. 4. The Commonsense Conception
  9. 5. The Causal Theory
  10. 6. The Simulation Theory
  11. III. Mental Time Travel as a Source of Knowledge
  12. 7. The Information Effect
  13. 8. Metamemory and the Source Problem
  14. 9. Metamemory and the Process Problem
  15. IV. The Evolution of Mental Time Travel
  16. 10. The Puzzle of Conscious Episodic Memory
  17. 11. Consciousness and Memory Knowledge
  18. 12. Conclusion
  19. Notes
  20. References
  21. Index