Philosophy and Memory Traces: Descartes to Connectionism

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Cambridge University Press, Mar 5, 1998 - Philosophy - 372 pages
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Philosophy and Memory Traces defends two theories of autobiographical memory. One is a bewildering historical view of memories as dynamic patterns in fleeting animal spirits, nervous fluids which rummaged through the pores of brain and body. The other is new connectionism, in which memories are 'stored' only superpositionally, and reconstructed rather than reproduced. Both models, argues John Sutton, depart from static archival metaphors by employing distributed representation, which brings interference and confusion between memory traces. Both raise urgent issues about control of the personal past, and about relations between self and body. Sutton demonstrates the role of bizarre body fluids in moral physiology, as philosophers from Descartes and Locke to Coleridge struggled to control their own innards and impose cognitive discipline on 'the phantasmal chaos of association'. Going on to defend connectionism against Fodor and critics of passive mental representations, he shows how problems of the self are implicated in cognitive science.
 

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Contents

traces brains and history
1
Animal spirits and memory traces
21
Memory and the Cartesian philosophy of the brain
50
Inner discipline
115
Cognition chaos and control in English responses
129
Local and distributed representations
149
John Locke and the neurophilosophy of self
157
The puzzle of survival
177
The phantasmal chaos of association
223
Associationism and neoassociationism
240
Hartleys distributed model of memory
248
Reid and Coleridge
260
Connectionism and the philosophy of memory
275
Attacks on traces
298
Order confusion remembering
317
References
323

Spirits body and self
189
The puzzle of elimination
214

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