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Studies in Philosophy

Consulting Editor:

V. C. CHAPPELL

THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO

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The
CONCEPT
of MEMORY
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, IRVINE

RANDOM HOUSE

New York

FIRST PRINTING

Copyright, I966, I967 by Stanley Munsat


All rights reserved under International and Pan-American
Copyright Conventions. Published in New York by Random
House, Inc. and simultaneously in Toronto, Canada, by
Random House of Canada Limited
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 67-II694
Manufactured in the United States of America
Printed by the HALLIDAY LITHOGRAPH CORP.,
West Hanover, Mass.
Composed and Bound by
H. WOLFF :BOOK MANUFACTURING, New York
Typography by Leon Bolognese

LEO MUNSAT
ALDEN VAN BUSKIRK

ot.

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Ainsi, quand on veut montrer une chose generale, il


faut en donner Ia regie particuliere d'un cas; mais si on
veut montrer un cas particulier, il faudra commencer par
Ia regie [generaie]. Car on trouve toujours obscure Ia
chose qu'on veut prouver, et claire celle qu'on empioie a
Ia preuve; car, quand on propose une chose a prouver,
d'abord on se remplit de cette imagination qu'elle est done
obscure, et, au contraire, que celle qui Ia doit prouver est
claire, et ainsi on l'entend aisement.

So when we wish to demonstrate a general proposition


we have to give the rule as it applies to a particular case;
but if we want to demonstrate a particular case, we have
to begin with the general rule. For we always find the
thing we wish to prove obscure, while the means we use
to prove it seem clear, since once we set out to prove
anything we fill our minds with the idea that it is therefore obscure, and that the examples we shall use to prove
it are, on the other hand, clear; and so we understand it
easily.
PAsCAL,

Pensees,

TRANS. J. M. COHEN, BALTIMORE: PENGUIN BOOKS, 1961.

PREFACE

The analytic techniques of philosophy have developed to the point where the investigation of a given
concept has become all but a philosophical exercise.
Thus, it is surprising that the concept of memory,
which has been so important in the history of philosophy, has been neglected to the extent that it has,
particularly in view of the emphasis placed upon that
area known as the philosophy of mind. In The Concept of Mind, for example, Ryle devotes only one out
of the seven sections comprising his chapter on imagination to this topic, and Wittgenstein has only one
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Preface

page on memory in Part II of the Philosophical Investigations. Where major efforts are devoted to the
topic of memory, the authors are more concerned with
the various epistemological problems associated with
our knowledge of the past than with the concept of
memory per se (cf. Von Leyden's Remembering).
The Concept of Memory may be viewed as an attempt to do three things. First, and perhaps most important, it tries to show that our concept of memory
involves such a variety of conditions of application in
various contexts and such a wide variety of types of
entities (e.g., dispositions, episodes, claims of special
authority, and so on) that no simple general account
of what memory is or involves could possibly capture
them all. The first and second chapters are, to a large
extent, devoted to showing this, and the chief method
of argumentation involves devising counterexamples
to plausible-sounding generalizations about memory,
such as "Memory is the ability to recall previous experiences" and "Memory is a kind of retention."
The second aim of the book is to give some sort of
positive account of the various memory sub-concepts,
or alternatively, the various forms of memory. To this
end, there are chapters dealing with memory of facts
(Chapter II), "suddenly remembering" (Chapter III),
dispo~itional memory (Chapter IV), and reminiscing
(Chapter V).
Finally, some attempt is made to discover the relationships which exist between the various forms of
memory, specifically whether some one form is basic
to all the others. To this end, the relationship between
memory as occurrence and memory claims is examined, with the aim of showing that all memory is in
various ways dependent on memory statements. When
one makes such a statement or claim, he is not re-

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Preface

porting anything but making a claim about what is


the case with the added force of maintaining that he
has special authority to make such a claim (Chapter
IV). As a part of this third category, mental images
are investigated both in themselves (Chapter VI) and
insofar as they relate to memory (Chapter VIII).
I am greatly indebted to my teachers and colleagues, past and present, for invaluable help in the
form of informal discussion and constructive criticism. I would like especially to thank Professors William Alston, Carl Ginet, George Mavrodes, and Julius
Moravcsik of the University of Michigan, Dean Terence Penelhum and Professor Plato Mamo of the
University of Calgary, and Professor John Heintz of
the University of North Carolina. I would also like to
express my gratitude to my wife, Lisa Munsat, who
has given so much of her time to typing the several
drafts of the book as well as to the trying task of seeing that proper form has been exhibited throughout.
A much shorter version of Chapter II appeared in
Philosophical Studies, April 1965; Chapter VI was
read to the 1965 meeting of the Canadian Philosophical Association in Vancouver, British Columbia.
University of California, Irvine

S. M.

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CONTENTS

EXAMINATION OF SOME
CLAIMS ABOUT MEMORY

The temptation to over-generalize about memory is noted with examples such as "Memory is an ability to recall previous experiences and/or describe them."
This claim countered by the case "I just remembered-[ have to be home at six
o'clock"; what I remember here is not a
previous experience.
Nor is memory retention of something, for
what I remember in this case cannot sensibly be spoken of as being retained.
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Memorization shown to require (a) that something difficult be the object, (b) that one
practices. Memorization a way of committing to memory, not a form of remembering.
Repeating from memory what we have memorized is not to report some past experience.
Memory cannot be ultimately reduced to memory of previous experience, as Furlong argues.
The statement "Memory is always of the past"
is ambiguous. If it means what I remember
is something which occurred in the past,
it is false. If it means merely that what I
remember I must have previously known,
it is generally true, with one qualification.
Further differences between sorts of memory
shown by considering responsibility for forgetting.
Ability to memorize not sufficient for good
memory.
Summary.
II

REMEMBERING THAT

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Malcolm's definition of memory of the form "A


person, B, remembers that p from a time,
t."

Counterexamples show that his conditions are


neither necessary nor sufficient.
Modification of his conditions would require
several formulations depending on the specifics of the cases.
Malcolm's argument in support of his statement of definiendum (viz. the locution
"from a time, t").

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This argument is mistaken.


However, it is correct for some cases.
Three sets of conditions for factual memory
are set up to replace Malcolm's one set.
Which set must be employed in a given
case depends on whether what one remembers is something he did or not and
whether or not he explicitly refers to the
time which he "remembers it from."
Summary of chapter to this point.
More examples showing that even revised definitions will not work, since not everything
that one can know can be spoken of as
being remembered.
Notion of "family resemblance" seems applicable to cases of remembering.

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III

SUDDENLY REMEMBERING

"Suddenly remembering" is a mental episode.


The question "What happens when someone suddenly remembers?" collects such
answers as "He snaps his fingers, pictures
something in his mind, has a sudden feeling of excitement."
Yet none of these things seem either necessary
or sufficient for someone's having suddenly
remembered something.
Suddenly remembering can be viewed as a
case of "suddenly being struck by''; my suddenly being struck by something is a case
of suddenly remembering if what I am suddenly struck by is relevant in certain ways
to what I am or was recently engaged in.
The test for "relevancy" is whether contextual
conditions are present which would give
sense to the expression "I just remembered"

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or similar suddenly remembering locutions.


There are at least three such suddenly remembering locutions: (A) "I just remembered . . . ."(B) "Now I remember . . . ."
(C) "That reminds me . . . ."
These are all different, as shown by the fact
that the phrases which can complete them
are different, or at least different degrees
of richness of contextual conditions are
required to make the memory claim intelligible.
Only things (including words) which can be
seen to have a "natural" connection to what
one is reminded of can remind one of something.
Summary of what distinguishes (A) from (B)
from (C).
"Suddenly remember" locutions, like most
which report mental episodes, marked by
past tense. All seem to suggest interruption.

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IV

s6

NON-EPISODIC MEMORY

There are many examples of memory claims


which make it appear as though memory
claims generally are reports of a "memory
experience."
The distinction between "dispositional" and
"non-dispositional" memory could still allow
for memory as an episode in the form of
the "non-dispositional" memory.
This would be similar to the claim that "can
describe the party" is dispositional, whereas
when one describes a party, he is "really"
reporting his thoughts (or some such mental entity) about the party. But such a claim
is implausible.

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Both claims, the one about memory and the


one about a description of a party, arise
from a peculiar view of language.
If memory claims can be analyzed as being
about something other than the speaker,
the search for special "experiences" (including the having of images) would not
seem important or even relevant.
To claim to remember something, e.g., how
many people were invited to a party, is to
either claim that I could say how many
people were invited on the basis of previous
knowledge of how many were invited, or to
claim that such and such number of people
were invited, and that my knowledge of this
comes from previous knowledge. Some
memory claims also involve a claim to have
come by knowledge in a special way, for
example by having witnessed that which I
claim to remember.
Sometimes "I remember . . . "is a claim to be
able to do certain things, and sometimes a
statement of the form "I remember . . ."is
the doing of them.
In a sense, a memory claim can be partially
understood as a claim about itself, to the
effect that it has a certain basis, just as a
statement of the form "I predict . . " can
be seen to be about itself, to the effect that
it is a prediction.
Practice in memory is practice in getting
things right on the basis of previous knowledge.
Accounts can now be given of (I ) "I am surq:
f.''
that if he had been there, I would reme?ftber it"; ( 2) "Yes, I do remember him"<fr':( 3)
"Well, I seemed to remember him sffiiing
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that," all without reference to "memory


experiences."
Inasmuch as statements of the form "I remember that p" are demonstrations of the knowledge claimed in such dispositional statements as "I remember seeing it," there
could not be statements like the latter without statements like the former, inasmuch
as the exercise of a disposition is logically
prior to the disposition.
Animals seem to be a counterexample to this,
insofar as they can be spoken of as remembering a person but not that he is so and
so.
But "remember" in "The dog remembers him"
can be shown to be a degenerate use. First,
it does not contrast with "recognize" in the
way "remember" does when applied to language users.
Second, we say of a dog who has not shown
"miss him" behavior that he will remember
someone, not that he does. This is because
we do not speak of an animal as being able
to do the sorts of things which show he
remembers (whining, getting excited).
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REMINISCING, MEMENTOES,
AND REMINDERS

"Reminiscing" is talking or thinking about


those stretches of one's past which one regards with some fondness.
It can thus be either verbal or "mental" activity, construing "mental" somewhat broadly.
Reminiscing takes some time.
The distinction between mementoes and reminders parallels, in many respects, that

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Contents
between remtmscing and (just) talking
about what one remembers.
One can only reminisce about something if
he remembers it, but not vice versa.
Yet the activity of reminiscing can be one way
in which one "cashes in" on the claim to
remember, and is in this sense basic. But
it is the particular statement which one
makes in reminiscing which is important,
not the fact that it is reminiscing which
one is doing in making these statements.
Inasmuch as reminiscing can be a mental activity, the primacy of memory claims for
memory rests on the question "Can one
know or 'think' what he can't say?" But this
is not a question which is peculiar to memory.
"Suddenly remembering," an episode, is also
basic by the "cashing in" criterion, but the
notion of having something is prior to that
of suddenly getting it. That is, the nonepisodic concept is presupposed by the episodic one.
Summary.
VI

THE NATURE OF IMAGES

Hume's discussion of what he calls impressions and ideas asserts the possibility that
mental images might be mistaken for perception. Hume's point can be put in terms
of two senses of "imagine," one sense exemplified in "There's nobody there. You are
just imagining 1 it," and the other in "Close
your eyes and imagine 2 (picture) a person
climbing over a fence."
One cannot be asked to imagine 1 although one

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could be asked to do something which


would have imagining 1 as an effect or result.
These might be called "ways of getting myself
to imagine 1 .'' There could not be anything
which could be called "getting myself to
imagine 2 .'' However, one could get someone else to imagine 2 something in imagining2 something else, e.g., asking him to
imagine 2 a bullfight, with the hope that in
doing this, he will imagine 2 a red cape.
Imagine 1 has built into it the notion of being
mistaken. One cannot be mistaken about
what he imagines 2 unless he is mistaken
about what he is imagining 2 is called.
Hume's claim can be rephrased as "Imagining 1
is sometimes imagining 2 while not realizing
that you are imagining 2 .''
To view such cases in the way Hume does
would be like calling a spasm an "extreme
case" of lifting one's arm.
Further cases involving imagining 2 show that
one cannot be spoken of as "discovering"
what he has imagined 2 from "inspecting"
his image, just as one cannot discover what
he is pretending to do or be from watching
his own bodily movements.
Berkeley mistook our special "knowledge" of
our images for their voluntariness.
Summary.
VII

DOES MEMORY ENTAIL


MENTAL IMAGES?

Malcolm's claim that there is a use of the verb


"remember" (perceptual memory) which

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Contents
implies that the speaker is having mental
imagery.
"I know what she looks like" does not mean
the same as "I see her face in my mind."
But by the same argument, neither could the
latter mean the same as "Now I remember
her face."
"Not only do I remember that I did it, but Iremember doing it" and "Not only do I remember that there was such a person, but
I remember him" supposedly examples of
perceptual memory.
Contrary to Malcolm, when one says these
things, he is only claiming to remember
many details about them. In such cases,
one is also claiming that he knows of these
details from having seen or done the things
in question. These details are of two sorts:
things I might have found out some other
way and things I could not have (and still
claim to remember), viz. my feelings and
thoughts at the time.
This is borne out by lack of a distinction, in
the case of how I felt, between remembering that I felt such and such and remembering feeling such and such.
Corollary: One's feelings are not subject (in
an informative way qua that feeling) to
detailed elaboration.
"Now I remember her face" is in a sense incomplete. It is not a report that one has
done something, but a claim that he now
(of a sudden) can (like "Now I can go
on").
Summary.
Not all uses of such expressions as "I remem-

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ber doing it" are claims to remember in


great detail, only the ones which Malcolm
thought were examples of perceptual memory.
VIII THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN
MEMORY AND
MENTAL IMAGES

In trying to make a guess or estimate or remember something, one may visualize. If


one pictures something and what he pictures is taken to be as he saw it, he calls
this a memory image.
Ho,ving an image is never a justification of a
claim to remember, although it may be an
aid to remembering.
But to say how images relate to trying to re. 1. . member does not tell us how they relate to
. ,:;;;:. ,
remembering.
. li.~~;: However, since to remember (with the excep.; f tion of suddenly remembering) is not to

experience or undergo anything, but to be


able to do something (make correct claims
or perform correctly), there seems no reason to be interested in this latter problem.

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. SUMMARY
BIBLIOGRAPHY

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The
CONCEPT of MEMORY

chapter

Examination of
Some Claims
About Memory

I have a strong inclination tq S~J.P.9_se, a priori, that


memory is always of the past, or that memory claims
are____ certaiTI--sort"CiCCfaim about the past, either
things I have witnessed, or done, or experienced, or
felt (read, thought, heard, etc. 1 ). I think this inclination is one that many people share, or would share, if
asked for a general statement about what characterizes memory or memory claims. But we must beware
of asking such a general question, for such questions
collect general answers, and we have no reason to
suppose that a general answer will do anything but
mislead, confuse, and, in general, hide the issues.

1 Just what sorts of things are included under the "etc." is


not an unimportant question and one which we shall return
to in the course of our examination.

The Concept of Memory

With this warning fresh in our minds, we might


consider a few more ~~!~l_s~atements about what
memory is or what is involved in memory, confident
that we will not let any such claims escape unchallenged:
(A)-Memory is an ability to recall previous experiences (etc.) and/or describe them.
(B)-Memory is retention of a certain sort (this claim
invites talk of "storage," "memory mechanisms,"
or "cells").
(C)-Memory is just a sub-class of "knowing," or
1
1
rather, a way in which someone can know something.
For the purpose of strengthening ourselves against
the temptation of the general claim, let us consider
two self-ascriptions which people sometimes make
when bragging about what a "good memory" they
have:
(I )-I always remember to mail letters, pick up things
at the store, and so forth.
( 2 )-I can easily learn (memorize) poems, speeches,
formulas and remember them years later.

Consider a case of the sort suggested in (I) above.


I do not mean a case of someone who usually, or almost always, remembers to do things he is supposed
to, but rather a particular case of someone's remembering to do something. Suppose that I am leaving my
office with a friend, and he asks me if I would like to
come over to his house for a glass of sherry. I answer,
"Why, thank you, I'd like to very much. Oh, wait a
minute, I just remembered that I have to be home in a
few minutes, because Jerry and his wife are coming
over for dinner. Why don't I come over tomorrow,

Examination of Some Claims About Memory

and . . . ?" In what sense is this "remembering" "of


the past"? In what sense is it a claim about the past,
about what I did, experienced, witnessed, was told?
As far as I can see, the only thing "past-ish" about my
suddenly remembering that I have to do something,
or be somewhere, is that we always say "I just remembered" (and that I knew). _,!3~ wha.Lw.as supJlOSed tQ_ be in the past was what I remember, not the
- -------------=----!emembermg. Nowone could try to find s~
past, which is what I remember, when I suddenly remember that I have to do something, or suddenly remember something that I intended to do, but such an
attempt is bound to become strained. One might argue, for example, that what I remember wh~-Tsud
denly remember to do something, or that I have to do
something, or that I meant to do something, is the
intention to do something, or the "meaning to" in
"mean to do such and such." But of course "that I intend to do something," or "meaning to do something,"
or "having to do something" or "that I have to do
something," although they are the things that I remember, are not something in the past, are not events
that I remember, or experiences that I remember. To
try to speak of such things in this way would be absurd. I might remember forming an intention to do
something, or to be somewhere at a certain time, or
someone's telling me to do something, or that someone told me, and here we could talk about what event
in the past I was remembering, or what about the past
I was remembering; but, when I suddenly remember
that I have to be home at six o'clock, I need not be
rememberihg the forming of the intention, or even
that I formed this intention. (Alternatively, I might
remember forming the intention, but not be said to
remember to do what I previously intended, simply
--~

The Concept of Memory

because I no longer want to do it.) If what I remember, when I suddenly remember that I have to be
home at six o'clock, is something datable at all, it is
something that exists now just as much as it existed
in the past, namely, my having to be home at six
o'clock (or my wanting to get some letters mailed today, or some such thing). Similarly, I might be
tempted to go skiing with a friend, until I remember
that my ankles are very weak and decide that it would
be too dangerous. What I remember is not ~tomething
in the past (although it might have been-for example, I might remember that I got into trouble the last
time I was skiing because my ankles were weak; this
would be a case of remembering something "out of
the past").
These very same considerations would show us
that~l
iJ,o_t C1:. case of remembering previouse~eriences (claim (A) above) and also that
memo~y is not ~lw~ys a ~:J.tter of retention of a cert~sort ~(B) ab-o~~). For what can I be said to
haveretained when I suddenly remember that I have
to be home at six o'clock tonight? !__1lligh!_ret~~a
siqll, o.~..an.abillty,
or- even,
with a lit~!P.g,
an
r- -- ---------.experience, in that I am able to recall it. Here we are
incline<rto think in terms of an event's making an
impression on me; this impression (a kind of imprint
on a material or immaterial stuff) is what I retain,
and in virtue of which I am able to remember or perform. But even if we are able to view memory of some
things as a retention along these lines, there is no
event, no skill developed from practicing, no "sense
experience" (or at least there need not be), in a case
of remembering that I have to be home at six o'clock,
such that I could be said to retain it.
"But surely," one might argue, "if you have to be

memocy_is

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Examination of Some Claims About Memory

home at six o'clock, there must have occurred in the


past something that we might call 'finding out that
you have to be home at six o'clock.' And if there was
no 'coming to know that you had to be home at six
o'clock,' or perhaps, 'deciding to be home at six
o'clock,' then you would not know you had to be home
at six o'clock; you could not remember it, for there
would be nothing to remember." This is no doubt true,
but these things at least need not be remembered at
all (and hence, in what sense would they be "retained"?) when I remember that I have to be home at
six o'clock. Thus, I may not have "retained" any of
these things. And what is it to "retain" "that I have to
be home at six o'clock"? What could this possibly
mean other than, perhaps, that I remember it? But
then !eten_t!()I_l is not an explanation__ or prer~.B!IJ.!!;e
for remembering, but a synonym forJ.!. But we might
still be t~mpted to say that the mind must have retained something here in order for me to remember
that I have to be home at six o'clock-either my wife's
telling me, or my inviting the Joneses to come over at
six o'clock, or some such thing. And if I do not remember why I have to be home, or even how I came
to know that I have to be home? Could it not be the
case that I just know I have to be home for something, but that is all I remember? So perhaps there is
something I retained subconsciously, such that if I
had not retained it I would not have remembered that
I have to be home at six o'clock.
But what role does this something in my subconscious play? Is it like a piece of string around my_
finger, without which I can never remember ...': ;~~.N:
things I am supposed to? Suppose I wanted t _.:~j~l : .
that same people remember to do things they, .. e:s~p:..'
posed to do without retaining something iiW~tr,-~sub~
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The Concept of Memory

conscious, just as some people remember to do things


without having reminders on hand. "But no, the reminder won't remind you of anything unless there is
something there in the memory to be rememberedunless there is something retained." And what might
that be-in ~u~h~a .
as-my-remembering that I have
to be home at six o'clock? "Quite simply, it is your
having to be home at six o'clock." But now, isn't this
odd? For what I was supposed to have retained was
something which happened in the past, some event or
experience which was retained in my mind by some-
how being impressed and "stored" there. But my having to be home at six o'clock just isn't the right sort of
entity, as it were. My "having to be home at six
o'clock" cannot be understood as something that happened, some event or experience which was impressed upon my mind or brain and was then retained, lying patiently and not bothering me until the
time comes when I need it, to suddenly burst into my
consciousness like a memo on a dictating machine
which spontaneously plays itself back just in time to
keep me from missing my appointment.
Isn't it at just this point of the analogy, the crucial
point, that we see that the analogy will not work? Just
hearing the dictating machine play back something
like "You have to be home at six o'clock tonight" does
not constitute remembering that I have to be home at
six o'clock tonight. For I might hear this sentence (or
. .hear it in my mind) and not r~JmJ.Jie~
be home; I might wonder why that message was there
or think that this message was telling me something I
did not know before. 2 Or suppose, upon hearing the

case

2 And what about the secretary who plays back a dictating


machine in typing a letter? Poes.her he~ng what is on the
~~~r~-~~ing wha~ was said oii-tt, eve_~~- sh~--

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Examination of Some Claims About Memory

--

machine, that I do remember that I have to be home.


Then we have to say tha~aying back of the ta];!e
made me remember or, perhaps,, caused me to re'lnember;
but -then;_lM~}'ing_
back'_:::Qf the machine
..
.
-.._
~__ns~!~_E_e_!he_~~:t2~_:r:~&-~l:IL~
had the remembering as its effect. So too, if, say, the
- words "I have to be home" just "come to mind, if the
marvelous tape recorder in my brain "plays back"
stored data, this may or may not have the result that I
remember my commitment, but at any rate, this does
not constitute the remembering of the commitment.
Given this role in memory attributed to "retention" or
"storage," what is stored, or the "playing back" of
what is stored, can drop out of the picture without in
any way affecting the appropriateness of saying, in
the right situation, that someone remembered something.
What, then, does the claim that memory is retention of some sort come to, in such a case as "remembering that I have to be home at six o'clock"? I suppose no more than a summary of the observations
that probably lead people to make the claim: certain
impairments of the brain have the result that one
does not or cannot remember things. But then, suppose people who have had certain brain damage did
not predict certain things? (Why might this not happen? It is an odd suggestion, but we could make it
more plausible if a certain personality change went
along with it, such as, say, a loss in confidence of
one's knowledge of the world, or a fantastic fear of
saying anything false.) Or suppose that after a blow
on the head, someone could not give orders (that is to
say, he didn't, even upon entreaty) or could not see
anything that was blue. Would this show that predicting was a certain sort of retention, or ordering, or

_____

IO

The Concept of Memory

seeing blue things? Yet what someone hears on a dictating tape may have the result that he orders someone
to do such and such, or predicts that such and such
will happen, or sees something that is blue for the
first time (he never noticed it until it was called to his
attention). So, too, a sentence coming to mind might
have various results, in that you may remember
something, or predict something, or discover something, or wonder whether, and so forth. Thus, the
"playing back," whether it be of a neurological impulse or an impulse from a tape recorder, cannot
constitute the remembering, although it might be instrumental in that it has the result that someone
remembers. (I should think that even this is not the
role played by memory images. But more about images
later.) Yet it is just this, that these "playing backs" of
stored impulses constitute remembering, that one understands by the claim that "memory is a retention of
a certain sort."
Finally, we come to the claim that memory is a subclass of the possible ways in which I can know something. I might know that I have to be home at six
o'clock because I saw a note from my wife, or because
I realized it was necessary because I had a commitment at seven o'clock and I had to eat first, but it
would be most odd to answer the question, "How do
you know you have to be at home at six o'clock?" (if
the question itself sounds odd, substitute "What
makes you think you have to be home at six
o'clock?") by "I remember that I have to be home at
six o'clock," or, "I just remembered that I have to be
home . . ." Actually, a more reasonable question
would be "Why do you have to be home at six
o'clock?" not "How do you know . . . ?" or "What
makes you think that . . . ?" But then, if such ques-

Examination of Some Claims About Memory

II

tions as "How do you know you have to be


home . . . ?" cannot even be asked, surely "I just remembered . . ." cannot be one possible answer to
them. 3
One other sort of the general class of "rememberings" which caught our attention was my example
( 2), p. 4. This example included such things as remembering poems and formulas. I called such cases
"memorization," although I am not sure that all cases
of such remembering involve memorization. One usually thinks of memorization as resulting from practice
at reciting, of repeating the things over and over
again until one "gets it." But all cases of such "committing to memory" are not memorization. One might
remember his license plate number as a result of such
practice, but we do not usually speak of someone
memorizing his license plate number, even if he did
practice it in this way. On the other hand, someone
might have read his favorite poem so many times that
he "knows it by heart," but since the "practicing" element is missing, we usually do not think of this as a
case of memorization. I think that there need be two
elements present beforewe speak of memonzation;
~first, the material memorized has. tQ [)~ rather I~!.&~ in L
quan!ity;--:m:<:t secondly, one__!!_as to repeat the thing L
over- and over (or hear it over and<>vei)wlth the int~_Ilt_ of_!:_~E!embe_rigg. Hence, an actor memorizes his
lines, but a person who frequently listens to a favorite
piece of music "knows it by heart." "Memorization,"
.

---------

I have not said very much about the very important question of memory as a source of knowledge because I feel that
Gilbert Ryle has made a sufficient number of correct p9irtts on
this issue in The Concept of Mind (New York: Barnes &.;N()ble,
1961 ), pp. 276-79, to refute the view of memory as a source
of knowledge. I feel, then, that on this issue I have just a~ded
another sort of case where remembering cannot be viewed as
a source of knowledge.
3

,. '

12

The Concept of Memory

then, would seem to refer to a class of ways_gf~


. mitting to memorY,'noi'a'kfu:dof, r.elllen1be~ig. 4
But weare-getting off tiie-()oiilt. We were interested
in cases of remembering such things as poems and
formulas in light of the general claims that are frequently made about the nature of memory. The first
such claim was that memory is always of the past or
that memory claims are a certain sort of claim about
the past, either things I have witnessed, or done, or
experienced. Now, immediately, we can see that cases
of memorization are not so connected with the past,
or about the past, unless one happens to have memorized, for example, a description of a Civil War battle.
But that is silly; that is not at all what we had in mind
when we said memory is always of the past. And secondly, when I repeat a poem from memory, I am
surely not making a memory claim. A claim that I
could recite a certain poem from memory might be a
memory claim, but that is not at all what people have
in mind when they talk about "memory claims." They
have in mind, rather, claims about the past, such
4 There are other interesting cases where "commit to memory" applies but "memorize" does not. For example, although
I may memorize a statement of some points, I cannot memorize
the points which the statement makes, although I can commit
them to memory and remember them. Generally speaking, it
seems that memorization is restricted to strings of symbols, as
opposed to facts, points, meanings, etc. These need not be
meaningful symbols, as in the case of memorizing a string of
nonsense syllables. But, on the other hand, it would be odd to
speak of memorizing a group of symbols with which one was
totally unacquainted, which, for example, were made up just of
lines and points in unfamiliar patterns. Perhaps part of the reason here is that there would have to be an order. One has not
memorized the Preamble to the Constitution of the United
States if he can only recite the words in it. He has to be able to
recite them in the correct order. On the other hand, one can
be said to have mastered and remembered the points made in
it no matter in what order he repeats them.

Examination of Some Claims About Memory

13

claims being based on my remembering the things in


the past which I claim to have happened (existed).
Not all cases of remembering (for example, repeating
from memory), then, even involve memory claims, as
so construed.
An attempt to "bridge the gap" between memory of
the past (of things I did, witnessed, heard) and remembering formulas, poems, and other such things,
has been attempted by E. J, Furlong in his book A
Study of Memory:
We have still to deal with such cases as, I remember
that v3
1.732, where the remembered item is a timeless thing. We can extend our account to this type in
the following way. There must have been a day when
we learnt for the first time that v'3
1.732. The next
day we might well have said, I remember proving yesterday that v3
1.732. In a month's time we might
have said, I remember that I did prove v3
I .732, but
I cannot remember the exact occasion; it was some
time not long ago. In a year's time our state of mind
might have been expressed by, I remember that v3
1.732, and I believe I did prove it sometime during the
past year, though I cannot remember doing so. This is
almost our present state of mind, which we express by,
1.732, and I suppose I must
I remember that v3
have proved it at some time, but I have absolutely no
recollection of doing so. In short, we now remember
what we proved, though we have forgotten the proving
of it. Our ability to forget gives the clue to the type of
non-retrospective memory we are considering.5

Now I think Furlong is pretty much correct about


what sort of thing is involved in our remembering a
formula, or, if we substitute "memorize" for "prove,"
5 E. J. Furlong, A Study of Memory (London: Thomas Nelson & Sons Ltd., 1951), pp. 8g-go.

14

The Concept of Memory

our remembering such things as poems, the way a


piece of music goes, and the like. But the question is,
what sort of "bridging the gap" is involved here? For
although this is a likely story of how it comes about
that one remembers a formula or a poem (but not the
looking up or learning of it), does this make such
cases any more like remembering proving the formula, or remembering memorizing the poem (that is,
remembering things which I did or witnessed or
which happened to me)?
I think not. Not only can I remember what the
square root of three is without remembering proving
it, or seeing it in a table of squares, or even remembering that I proved it, or saw it in a table of squares,
but I might remember seeing it in a table of squares,
or proving it, or that I saw it without remembering
what the square root of three is. But more than that,
my claim that v'3 = 1.732 or even that I remember
that v'3 = 1.732, is not a memory claim in the sense of
a claim about something I have witnessed or done. Or
rather, if my claim that v'3 = 1.732 is a claim about
what I have done (proved, looked up) in that it is a
claim about what the square root of three is, and I
learned or proved what the square root of three is,
still my claim that v'3 = 1.732 is not a claim about
what I learned or did qua claim about what I learned
or did. That is, should someone ask me if I remember
what the square root of three is, and I reply, "Yes," I
may be remembering something which I did at one
time look up, or prove, but my memory is only of
something I did (proved, looked up) in the sense that
what I remember is something I looked up or proved;
but I am not remembering it as something I looked up
or proved. And it is surely this which we had in mind

Examination of Some Claims About Memory

' i

~~~

15

when we said memory is of the past, of things l witnessed, heard, did. That there is a big difference between these two sorts of things (something I did, on
the one hand, and a fact like V3 = 1.732, on the
other) can be shown by the fact that there is a difference between saying "I remember that I proved what
the square root of three is" and "I know that I proved
what the square root of three is," but there is not
the same difference between "I remember what the
square root of three is" and "I know what the square
root of three is." Let us examine these two pairs of
sentences.
If I say that I remember proving that p, or that I
remember that I proved that p, then I am saying that
I did not find out that I proved it from, for example,
being told that I proved it, or reading that I proved it.
I am claiming that I was never informed of my having proven it, but that I know I proved it just because
I proved it. If, on the other hand, I simply claim to
know that I proved it, then I am leaving open the possibilities ruled out when I claimed to remember proving it, or that I proved it.
On the other hand, if we contrast remembering
that p with knowing that p, where what I remember is
a fact other than something I did, then the only
difference (between saying I know and saying that I
remember) is that if I say I remember, I am implying
that I did not just find out, that I knew it before.
Thus, I could be said to know what the square root of
three is if I just looked it up, but I could not be said to
remember it. It seems, then, that all that is required
for a person to be said to remember that V3 = 1.732
is that he know it, without having just now found out
(or calculated it in his head). But in order to be said

I6

The Concept of Memory

to remember that he did something, he would not only


have to know that he did it, but he must not have
found out that he did it by, for instance, having been
told. 6
It would seem, then, that the difference between
remembering doing something or that I did it, and remembering a "timeless thing," as Furlong puts it, like
V3 = 1.732, is not how much I remember, as Furlong claims, but where (how) I came by that which I
remember.7
What I take myself to have shown is that, at best,
the claim "memory is always of the past," or, "memory claims are a certain sort of claim about the past,
either things I have witnessed, done, experienced,
felt," is ambiguous. !_!s ambiguity lies ip._!~of
the past," or "about the past." When one says that
"Wlien_f_remember somethi;g, I am remembering
something I did (witnessed) in the past, I would usually take him to mean that I remember the doing
(witnessing) of it, or at least, that I did (witnessed)
it. But if I say I remember something which I happened to prove or look up in the past, for example,
v3 = 1.732, I am not claiming to remember something that happened in the past, although what I remember is something that I did prove or look up in
\ the past; and only in this sense is what I remember
connected with the past. Or, to put it still another
way, _what I remember is n()_t a:r:t -~Y:~!J.J 9t ~~~~~11~~
in the pa_:;~. Rather, if I remember, I must have known
6 See Chapter II, footnote 3, on p. 23, and alsop. 31 for more
on this point.
7 We shall find in Chapter VII, however, that the difference
between remembering doing such and such and remembering
that I did such and such frequently is a matter of how much
I remember.

l.

Examination of Some Claims About Memory

17

it in the past.s Now, if we want to stick to the general


claim about memory which is stated at the beginning
of this paragraph, we have to realize that the claim is
ambiguous. ILHJ.!>__:l!!l_~i_g_u,()us! _t]?.~I.?:_!h~nu.ne r~l!!!Y
two differ!_~!...<;;.la.ID'l-l!_i!)_~Ql~till_. If the general statement :hid~s this fact, it is even worse than not worth
stating. That these two claims are different, or rather,
that there are two senses of "about something in the
past," is show"n bfthe-facfthaCa:Iihoughthere iSa'
'<ITI!erence between "I know that I once proved it" and
"I remember that I once proved it," there is no such
difference between affirmative answers to the questions, or, for that matter, between the questions "Do
you know what the square root of three is?" and "Do
you remember what the square root of three is?" Furlong tried to reconcile these two sorts of remembering
to give support to the claim "Memory is always of
something I did or experienced (heard, etc.)," but I
think his attempt failed.
The conceptual difference between, say, remembering what one ate at a picnic last year, on the one
hand, and remembering that one has to be home at
six o'clock, on the other (cases which I would imagine
Furlong would feel needed to be "bridged"), can be
further brought out by looking once more at the no8 Having taken a cursory look at some examples of memory,
we may now feel that we are in a position to try a generalization
of our own. The one I have in mind might be- stated as follows:
Anything which one remembers is something which he previously
knew. But, at least superficially, we can dismiss this claim quite
easily. For one thing which someone might remember is eating
a ham sandwich at the picnic last year. But one cannot be
spoken of as knowing his eating a ham sandwich at the picnic
last year. I will grant, at this point, that there is more to be
said about such a case. More will be said about it in Chapter VII.

18

The Concept of Memory

tion of a "good memory." In his article, "The Validation of Memory and Our Conception of a Past," John
0. Nelson states:
Prefixes like "remember," "know," "it is certain," normally suggest a certain amount of risk being taken.
This is shown by the fact that memory-statements,
knowledge-statements, and the like possess, as it were,
logical escape hatches. If, for instance, a memory-claim
of mine is overturned, I am able to blame it on a poor
memory, and no one can blame me for that.D

I think that Nelson is right here, but notice he is talking about memory claims. He has in mind such things
as my being able or not being able to remember what
I ate at the picnic last year; when people talk of memory claims, they do not have in mind such things as "I
just remembered that I have to be home at six o'clock
tonight." If someone does not remember such things,
we do blame him. If a person makes memory claims
about what he did in the past, and they are frequently
wrong, we say his memory is unreliable. If a person
forgets that he has to be home for dinner at six
o'clock, forgets to do things he said he would do, and
is in general "forgetful," it is he that we brand as unreliable.
Finally, I would like to spend a moment pointing
out what is probably obvious anyway and that is the
relation between memorizing and remembering what
was memorized in terms of "good memory." The point
of this is no more than that whatever the similarities,
we are talking about different sorts of things; different sorts of skills are involved, and from this I feel
that any common account of the two must necessarily
9 John 0. Nelson, "The Validation of Memory and Our Conception of a Past," Philosophical Review, LXXII (January,

1963), 37

Examination of Some Claims About Memory

,
I
I

19

be either false, inadequate, and/or misleading. But


then, this is what we have been coming to suspect
anyway, so let us proceed.
If an actor memorizes his lines easily, we would
say that he has an ability to learn things easily, that
he can "pick things up" quickly. If he can still remember, several years later, the lines of a play which
he was in, we say that he has a good memory. The
child who can quickly learn the names of various objects cannot yet be said to have a good memory although he can be said to pick things up quickly. Although someone might learn (memorize?) a tune
very quickly, if he does not remember it a few weeks
later, we have nothing which counts for his having a
good memory. College students are familiar with the
practice known as "cramming." Many students are
very good at memorizing large amounts of material
and equally good at forgetting it soon after the examination. Although such things do not count against
their having a good memory, surely their ability to absorb these masses of information very quickly does
not make us want to say that they have good memories. The student who has a good memory for dates
(in history) is the one who can tell you at any time
when a certain historical event occurred, not the one
who can just tell you a few minutes before the examination.
It is, then, such considerations which lead me to
say that Furlong has not "bridged the gap" between
various cases of remembering, in that he has not
shown "remembering V3 = 1.732" to be like "remembering proving (or that I proved, or looked up) that
v'3 = 1.732." 10 Nor is the relationship between mem1o See Norman Malcolm, Knowledge and Certainty (Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1963), pp. ZlD-14, for

20

The Concept of Memory

orizing and remembering what one memorized particularly well captured by his account.
We have been examining various sorts of "rememberings" with the aim of showing that a general claim
about the nature of memory is doomed to failure because of the various sorts of things that are involved
in different cases of remembering. Might we not
make slightly less general claims about general
classes of rememberings, for example, one claim
about memory of the form "I remember that . . . ,"
another about such cases as "I suddenly (just) remembered that . . . ," another about "I remember
seeing him . . . ," etc.? But we cannot answer such
a question without a relatively detailed examination
of the various "forms." Let us begin, then, with memory claims of the sort "I remember that . . . ," and
see what such claims involve. I think a good point
from which to launch our investigation would be Norman Malcolm's chapter, "A Definition of Factual
Memory." 1I And a natural second step might be an
investigation of memory statements of the form "I
just remembered that . . ." (suddenly remembering), as so much of the burden of the investigation up
to this point has been on this sort of remembering.
an attempt to show that "remembering x'ing" is, in direct opposition to Furlong's claim, dependent on "remembering that." See
also my arguments to the same effect (Chapter IV, Part II).
1I Ibid., pp. 222-40.

j'

chapter

II Remembering
That

In his book Knowledge and Certainty, in the chapter


entitled "A Definition of Factual Memory," Norman
Malcolm sets up conditions for saying that a person
"remembers that p." 1 We might note at this point
that Malcolm may be making an unwarranted assumption-that we can give the same analysis for
any memory claim of the form "A person remembers
that . . ."-regardless of what the "p" in question is,
that is, no matter what it is that he remembers. I
think that, as a matter of fact, he is misled by this
very assumption; or, perhaps more accurately, because he makes this assumption, he fails to consider
certain cases which he might otherwise have considered, cases which are fatal to his definition. But for
the moment, I would like simply to state his condi1 Norman Malcolm, Krwwledge and Certainty: Essays and
Lectures (Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1963).

21

j_-

22

The Concept of Memory

tions and develop some counterexamples to these


conditions which do not particularly depend on his
failure to consider various sorts of propositions which
one can be said to remember. I think that in these
first four counterexamples, however, his conditions
fail because they are too general, but not too general
with respect to the various sorts of "p's" which a person can be said to remember.
Malcolm's definition is as follows:
Our definition of factual memory can now be stated in
full as follows: A person, B, remembers that p from a
time, t, if and only if B knows that p, and B knew that
p at t, and if B had not known at t that p, he would not
now know that p.2

I want to show that Malcolm has given us neither


necessary nor sufficient conditions for saying that a
person, B, remembers that p from a timet. I will further examine Malcolm's reasons for employing the locution "from a time, t," which strikes me as curious.
In showing that Malcolm has given us neither necessary nor sufficient conditions for saying that a person
B remembers that p from a time t, I will consider two
"p's." One will be something I did; another will not be
something I did. In particular, my examples will be "I
remember that I once killed a deer while driving" and
"I remember that V3 = I .732." These counterexamples do not depend on there being two different examples. I simply want to have these two examples in the
offing later when I examine Malcolm's locution "A
person, B, remembers that p from a time, t . . . . "
(Italics mine.)

2 Ibid., p. 236. Reprinted by perrmssiOn of Prentice-Hall,


Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, U.S.A. 1963.

23

Remembering That

I
cASE (a)

Let us begin by considering my first example, "I remember that I once killed a deer while driving." Let
us suppose that I once killed a deer while driving and,
further, that I remember that I killed one from the
time that I did kill it (time t). 3 Let us further suppose that at time t 1 , a time later than t, someone says
to me, "Say, I just found out that you killed a deer
while driving," and I reply, "Yes, you needn't have
told me that; I remember that I once killed one." And
now, one year since t 1 , I still remember that I once
killed a deer while driving, and still from time t. But
if I hadn't known that I killed it (say, if I had not
known at t that what I killed was a deer, or that I had
killed it), I at least might know it now anyway, because of the remark made to me at t 1 . Hence, I remember that p from t: I know that p, I knew that p at
t, but if I had not known that p at t, I might now know
it anyway. I take this case as showing that Malcolm
has not given us necessary conditions for a person's
remembering that p from timet. For I canb~ ~aid to
3 I say "Let us suppose that . . . I remember that 1 killed
one from the time that I did kill it." 1 want to note that this is
implied by my saying that I remember that I killed it, just as
mv having killed it is implied by my saying that I remember
that 1 killed it. That is, when 1 say that 1 remembPr that I killed
it, I am ruling out the possibility that I fourul cntt that I killed

it some time after 1 killed it.


The following case should illustrate this point:

Jones: I remember that 1 was a verv active child.


Smith: Really? \Vhat a remarkable 'memory you have.
Jones: Oh, no, my mother told me about it last year.
\Ve will naturally have more to say on this issue when we consider in detail the locution "from a time, t."

The Concept of Memory

24

remember that p from t without meeting Jlis_condi-. tions.

,,

-~-----

/ To show that Malcolm has not given us sufficient


/ conditions for a person B remembering that p from a
time t, I need to give an example where a person
meets Malcolm's conditions but does not remember
that p from a time t. I think that the following case
will do just this.

CASE

I'

(b)

Suppose that I once killed a deer while driving, and I


did it at time t - I (a time earlier than t). Let us further suppose that no one ever mentioned this fact to
me, nor did I read about it. (Let us also assume that I
knew it was a deer and knew that I killed it, at the
time.) And finally, suppose that I now know that I
killed it. Let us now consider a time t, between t - I
and the present. What if I had completely forgotten 4
4 By "completely forgotten," I mean "forgotten beyond recall." For one can be said to know something "all along" even
if he has temporarily forgotten it. But if someone has "completely forgotten" something by the time we, say, ask him about
it, then he no longer knows it. Once we commit ourselves to
someone's having forgotten something beyond recall, then if he
later "comes up with it," we must say that he learned it again,
or found, out again, or determined it anew, or perhaps guessed,
but not that he remembers it. Or, alternatively, if we claim that
he does remember it, then we must admit that we were mistaken when we previously said he had forgotten it beyond recall
(did not know it). (The case sometimes arises where a person
claims he knows something but cannot remember. Then we tell
him. Or we remind him. But which was it? Did he "know all
along," and we just reminded him, or were we informing him
of something he once knew but did not know when we told
him? Sometimes this will depend on what he says, as, "Oh yes,
of course," or, with a puzzled look, "Really?")
Perhaps I had better make the point this way: I mean to be
using "completely forgotten" here in such a way that to say a
person has completely forgotten something is to say that he no
longer knows it. This is perhaps contrary to ordinary use. For

Remembering That

25

that p between t- I and t? If so, and I never had an


opportunity to find out that p, I would not now know
it. Hence, I now know that p, I knew that p at t, and if
I had not known that p at t (if I had completely forgotten that p before time t), I would not now know it.
But I do not remember that p from t; rather, I remember it from t - I. Thus, Malcolm's conditions are not
sufficient, for one could meet them without remembering that p from t.
I need a slightly different case to show that Malexample, we say "I knew I had to be there, but I completelX
forgot." (But here, "I knew" means only "I was informed," ' I
committed myself to coming," or something of the sort.) Thus,
"forgotten beyond recall" is perhaps a better locution for what
I want to get at here. Hence, if one has forgotten something
beyond recall, and never comes into contact (by being told,
reading about, etc.) with that which he has so forgotten, he
no longer knows it. Of course, it is difficult to tell when someone has forgotten something beyond recall, and hence no longer
knows it. For one can never be sure that someone will not
someday remember what we thought he had forgotten beyond
recall. But I suppose that at some point we are entitled to say
he has forgotten it beyond recall, that he no longer knows it. At
what point we say this defends on what it is we want him to
remember. For example, i he knows his license plate number
or what the square root of three is, we should expect him to be
able to say what it is without too much trouble. We would not
give him too much time to come up with it before we said he
did not know it (given that he was not flustered or under
pressure, for instance). On the other hand, if he was trying to
remember (to think of) the name of a person whom he knew
several years ago, we might allow him an indefinite time to try
to come up with it before we said he had forgotten it beyond
recall, or that he does not know (in fact, we may never say
this). It is interesting to note, in this connection, the fact that
in such a case as a person's not being able to remember, say,
what his license plate number was ten years ago, we say that
he does not know what it was. But then, if he "recalls" it under
hypnosis or psychoanalysis, we speak of his "knowing it subconsciously." This is a natural move to make, given the above
remarks about the relation between knowing and being able to
remember (meaning, here, being able to say). (See footnote 8,
p. 33, for more on this.)

26

The Concept of Memory

colm's conditions are not necessary for a person remembering that p from a time t for a memory statement which does not involve remembering something
I did. My case is as follows:
CASE

(c)

Suppose that it was true of me a year ago that I knew


that v3 = 1.732. Someone came up to me and said,
"Say, I just found out that V3 = 1.732," and I reply,
"Yes, you needn't have told me that; I remember that
from grade school (time t)." And now, a year after
this conversation, I still remember that V3 = 1.732,
and still, from time t (at which time I knew it). But
surely if I had not known it at time t, I might still
know it now anyway, from this person's remark.
Hence, I remember it from time t: I know it now, I
knew it at time t, but had I not known it at time t, I
would (or at least could) know it now anyway.
Hence, I remember that p from t without meeting all
of Malcolm's conditions.
This is probably becoming tedious, so I ~ll be very
brief in showing that Malcolm's conditio ~ are not
sufficient for remembering that p from a ti e t, with
my "p" now being "\/3 = 1.732."
CASE

(d)

Suppose that I learned that pin grade school (t- I),


and I have never forgotten it. Suppose also that I
never again heard, saw, read, and so on, that p since
t - I. But what if I had completely forgotten that p
before high school (time t)? Then, since I never
came across it (calculated it, etc.) again, I would not
now know it. Hence, as I have outlined the case, I
know now that p, I knew that p at t, and if I had not
known that p at t (if I had completely forgotten it by

'i

Remembering That

27

then) I would not now know it. Malcolm's conditions


for remembering that p from t have been satisfied,
but I do not remember that p from time t; I remember
it from t- 1.
We have found that Malcolm's attempt to give a
definition for "A person, B, remembers that p from a
time, t," is weak in his third condition, the counter
factual "if B had not known at t that p, he would not
now know that p." It was by concentrating on this
condition that I was able to come up with my counterexamples. Can we reformulate this condition so as to
rule out my counterexamples? I think that we could
but that it would take several sets of conditions to
take care of the various possibilities that might arise,
and this would be, to say the least, inelegant. Let me
see if I can make clear why this would have to be
~ne.
'
You will remember that in showing that Malcolm's
conditions were not necessary, I appealed to a case
which involved coming across p at some time after t,
e.g., Case (a), p. 23. Now Malcolm could take care of
this sort of case by changing his counterfactual condition to read "And if the person had not known at t
that p, and if he had not come across p at some time
later than t, he would not now know that p." But there
might also arise a case, e.g., Case (d), p. 26, where
the person did not come across p at some time later
than t. How, then, would we apply this reformulated
condition to such a case? How are we to understand,
when considering a case where the person did not
come across p, the condition "if he had not come
across p"? In other words, I am at a loss to make
sense of the locution "He did not come across p since
t, and if he hadn't. . . ." So we would need two sets
of conditions, one for cases where the person did

The Concept of Memory

come across p at some time after t, and another for


cases where he did not. But even then, another problem would arise for two other possibilities.
Cases (c) and (d) above involved the person's having known that p before t. In order to get by these
counterexamples, we have to rule out this possibility.
I do not think that this can be done by adjusting the
counterfactual. Perhaps it could be done by simply
adding a fourth condition-that the person did not
know that p just before t. At any rate, it looks as
though a single counterfactual will not do for Malcolm's third condition, and his enterprise becomes
even more hopeless given the claim that I am about to
argue, namely, that we are not entitled to cast all factual memory statements into the form "A person, B,
remembers that p from a time, t," (italics mine) to
begin with.

II
I would first like to summarize briefly the considerations that led Malcolm to state his definiendum in the
form "A person, B, remembers that p from a time,
t. . . ." At the very beginning of his chapter on factual memory, Malcolm gives a preliminary definition
for factual memory statements:
The definition is very simple. It is the following: A
person, B, remembers that p if and only if B knows that
p because he knew that p. It will be convenient to say
that this definition is composed of three elements: the
present knowledge that p, the previous knowledge that
p, and the relationship between the present and the
previous knowledge expressed by saying that B knows
that p because he previously knew that p. Each element
i< a logically nc"'"'l' 'ndttion and th conjunction

Remembering That

29

of them a logically sufficient condition of factual memory.5

It is in trying to give some analysis of "B knows that p


because he knew that p" that Malcolm introduces talk
of remembering that p from a time, t. He says:
To say that A knows that p because he previously knew
that p implies that A has not just now learned over
again that p. This brings out, in part, the negative
sense of the "because."

And again:
Another expression we can use here is "source,"
i.e., the source of A's present knowledge that p is his
previous knowledge of it. . . . To say "His previous
knowledge is the source of his present knowledge" implies that he has not just now learned over again that p.
\

And finally:
The meaning of "just now IS, however, pretty indefinite. If I was told something two hours ago would
that be "just now"? Or would "just now" have to be
ten minutes or ten seconds ago? I believe this is an
artificial problem. I think that when we say "A remembers that p," we refer, more or less vaguely, to a more
or less definite previous time when A knew that p. We
are asserting that A remembers that p from that time.
This will imply that A has not learned over again that
p since that time. If this is correct we can get rid of the
phrase "just now" in stating our analysis of factual
memory. The statement "He remembers that p" will
imply: "He knows that p, and at a previous time, t, he
knew that p, and he has not learned over again that p
since t." It would be up to the person who made the
original statement to specify the time, t, to which he
refers.s
5

Malcolm, op. cit., p. 223.

6 Ibid., pp. 234-35.

30

The Concept of Memory

I think that Malcolm is simply mistaken when he


says "when we say 'A remembers that p,' we refer,
more or less vaguely, to a more or less definite previous time when A knew that p," and that "we are asserting that A remembers that p from that time." For
if this is so, then what, for example, is the difference
between "I remember that v3 = I . 732" and "I remember that v'3 = 1.732 from grade school"? Is the
latter just a more explicit statement of the former? It
is surely false that I have to be able to say when I
learned something in order to say that I remember it.
Nor does my memory claim come under suspicion if I
cannot say when I picked up such a piece of information. Perhaps Malcolm means that at any rate there is
some more or less definite previous time at which I
found it out and from which I remember it. And this
is probably true. But this does not mean that I am
referring to that time when I say that someone or myself remembers that p, "vaguely" or "implicitly" or
anything of the sort. For if I buy a light bulb, there
must be a more or less vaguely specifiable person or
organization from whom I bought it, but surely this
does not mean that when I say "I bought a light bulb,"
I am vaguely referring to a more or less definite person or organization from whom I bought it. I may do
this, for example, by saying "I bought a light bulb
from a peddler on a street corner downtown." This
would be a case of referring more or less vaguely to
the person from whom I bought it. But then again, I
may not make such a reference, even though there
does have to be someone from whom I bought it.
It begins to look, then, as if Malcolm is not going to
be able to take care of "just now" in the way he suggests. (And incidentally, doesn't the time, t, to which
I may refer, in saying that I remember that p from

Remembering That

31

that time, have to be a time which is not "just now" if


I can be said to remember that p?) But even if "just
now" is not an "artificial problem," that does not
mean that we have to be concerned about it, any more
than, say, the question of how near at hand I have to
have matches in order to say "Yes" to "Do you have a
light?" In my pocket? On my desk? What if I have to
go into another room to get them? And if I have some
out in the garage? At what point should I say, "No,
but I'll get you one"?
There is a class of memory statements, however,
where it is important to note something about the
time from which I remember the proposition in question, and the requirement that I remember it from
that time. I have in mind what Malcolm calls personal factual memory. 7 These would include "remembering that" statements, where what the person
remembers is something he did or some trait he had,
for example, "I remember that I was an active child,"
or "I remember that I was arrested for throwing eggs
at houses one Hallowe'en." Here, indeed, I am referring to a more or less definite time or time period, and
I am indeed implying that I remember these facts
from those times at which they were true. I mean, for
example, that I would not say that I remember that I
was a very active child if I had found out that I was
by having been told, say, last year. "I remember that I
was a very active child" might be expected to bring a
response like "My, you have a good memory," but not
like "Really? Where did you get that information?" or
"Really? When did you find this out?" But these latter
two questions could appropriately be asked if I had
said, "I remember that v'3 = 1.732."
What is beginning to emerge from this discussion
7

Ibid., p.

216.

1[

32

The Concept of Memory

is the realization that we are not going to be able to


give a neat, simple analysis of "remembering that"
statements in the form of one set of necessary and
sufficient conditions. But perhaps we can do the job
with several sets of necessary and sufficient conditions. Some of these would be for cases where there is
a reference to a time t, such that a person remembers
that p from that time, and another set, or other sets,
for those cases where no such reference is made. Let
us consider the first class of factual memory statements, namely, factual memory statements where a
reference is made to a time t from which the p is remembered.
Let us consider the memory claim, "I remember
that v3 = 1.732 from grade school (time t)." First
of all, we want to say that one condition of the truth
of this is that I now know that V3 = 1.732. Another
condition is that I knew it at t. Now, the question is,
did I know that V3 = 1.732 just before grade school?
Did I come across the fact that V3 = 1.732 at any
time after time t? For we have to know this before we
can state our last condition. (See pp. 27-28 for why
this is so.) Let us suppose that I did not know that
V3 = 1.732 just before time t, and let us also suppose, just for the sake of illustration, that I did come
across the fact that v3 = 1.732 after time t (i.e.,
after grade school, the time from which I remember
it). Then our third condition will read, "This case
being one where the person did not know that
V3 = 1.732 just before time t, but did come across
this fact after time t, if he had not known that p at t,
and had not come across it between t and the present
(when he remembers it), he would not now know it."
A different case would take a different formulation.
For example, if the case were the same, except for the

Remembering That

33

fact that I did not come across p since t, then the


hypothetical condition would read, "Since the person
did not know that p before t, and since he did not
come across p after t, if he had not known that p at t,
he would not now know it." But since there are still
cases which show that Malcolm's conditions are not
sufficient for a person remembering that p from a
timet (see Case (d), p. 26), we would have to build
in a condition which would rule out this case as a
case where the person remembers that p from t. Such
a condition would be "The person did not know that p
just before t." But this is all rather difficult to follow,
so I will attempt to formulate a set of conditions for
the truth of "A person, B, remembers that p from a
time, t" which takes into account the objections I
have found so far to Malcolm's conditions. I think the
following will do the job (note that it does not have a
hypothetical as one of the conditions) :
A person, B, remembers that p from a time t
(where there is a reference to a time t) if and only
if:
(I )-He knows that p,

)-He knew that p at t,


( 3 )-He did not know that p just before t,
( 4 )-There is no time between t and now ("now" being when he remembers that p) such that it was
true of him that he did not know that p.s

(2

B A word needs to be said about this last co.ndition. A person


can now remember that p from a time t, even though on some
occasion( s) after t, he was unable to "think of" p. For example,
someone might have asked me (between t and now) what the
name of the fellow is who spilled the drink at the party, !!Pii I.
was not able to say at that time, but now I remember.. tll~tJii~ (
name is Cox. Now, the question is, at that time wh~Jn .I :wa~ : ,,
asked and could not remember, did I know what eox's name~'.,
was? I think that neither a "yes" nor a "no" :mswer"js: quite' '
right. For to say "At that time, when he asked me; I, did'know" ..
I

34

The Concept of Memory

Accepting for the moment these conditions for "remembering that" statements where a reference is
made to a time t from which the p in question is remembered, we still have a slight problem. Clearly the
above would be the analysis we would think appropriate for a memory claim of the form "I remember that
v'3 = 1.732 from grade school." Just as clearly, we
would not want to use this analysis for "I remember
that v'3 = 1.732," because here we are making no
reference to a time from which the p is remembered.
But now what about a memory claim where what I
claim to remember is something I did, for example, "I
remember that I once killed a deer while driving"?
Surely there is a reference to a time t, such that I
remember what I remember from that time; but, on
the other hand, it would be most odd to make this
reference explicit-in fact, I think it would be redundant. For, if what I have claimed above is correct (p.
31 ), if I claim to remember something I did, there
seems to imply that I could have said what it was. On the
other hand, to say "At that time, when he asked me, I did not
know, but I know now" seems to imply that I have found out
since he asked me. I think, however, that we do have a locution
to cover such cases. If I try to remember something at a certain
time but cannot, and then later on can (do), we say I "knew
it all along." And I think that if we now say that I remember
that p, then we are committed to describing my previous inability to recall that p as "not being able to think of it at the
time" and not as "not knowing at the time (when asked) that
p." Hence, when I say, "There is no time between t and now
("now" being when he remembers that p) such that it was true
of him that he did not know that p," I mean among other things
to be taking care of just the sort of case where a person, at some
time after t, cannot think of p but now remembers it. I want to
say of this person that he "knew it all along," and to rule out
such questions as "But did he know it at just that time when
he could not think of it?" or, "Did he know it at every moment
between when he first knew it and when he remembered it?"
Hence, the awkward negative phrasing of this condition.

(,
i

li,

Remembering That

35

can be only one time from which I remember it,


namely, the time during which I did it. If this is true,
it would be redundant to say "I remember that I once
killed a deer while driving from the time that I killed
it." (In looking over this statement, one can see that
an argument is not required to bring out its oddity,
but just to explain it.) The question is, do we subject
this sort of memory statement to the above analysis
(page 33) or not? Well, if we do, then the form of
the definiendum becomes a bit strained, and the third
condition is a bit odd (the third condition being "He
did not know that p just before t"), for obviously I
cannot know that I killed a deer while driving before I
killed it. 9 Perhaps, then, we need a separate set of
conditions for factual memory statements where what
I remember is something I did. Such statements, then,
might be analyzed as follows: \
A person, B, remembers that p, where the p in
question is something that he did (or something that
happened to him), if and only if:
(I )-He knows that p,
( 2 )-He knew that p at t ("t" being when he did it or
when it happened to him),
( 3 )-There is no time between t and now ("now" being when he remembers that p) such that it was
true of him that he did not know that p.

Finally, we need a form of analysis for factual


memory statements where there is no reference whatsoever to a time t, such that the person remembers
that p from that time. Perhaps the following will do:
A person, B, remembers that p, where there is no
9 The oddness of this condition in such a case was pointed
out to me by Professor John Heintz.

The Concept of Memory

reference to a time from which he remembers that p,


if and only if:
(I )-He knows that p,
( 2 )-He knew that p,
( 3 )-He did not just find out that p.

Let us take some time to summarize what has been


said so far on the problem of factual memory and, in
particular, Malcolm's definition. First of all, his third
condition, "If B had not known at t that p, he would
not now know that p" lets in counterexamples that
show his definition to be neither necessary nor sufficient for a person, B, remembering that p from a time
t. We could preserve the form of his definition, but it
would take two formulations for two possible cases,
plus an additional condition, and even then, this
would only do for one of three possible sorts of factual memory statements. It would do for memory
statements of the form "I remember that p from a
time t," where the p is some fact I know other than
something I did. It would not do for a memory statement of the form "I remember that I once . . ." nor
for a memory statement of the form "I remember that
p," where I make no reference to a time from which I
remember that p, and the p is not something I did (or
something that happened to me). The set of conditions which I devised on page 33 seems to condense the two sets that Malcolm would need for memory statements of a form like "I remember that
v3 = 1.732 from grade school," and I think that this
set is not prone to the counterexamples to which Malcolm's definition was open. But, again, this is only one
kind of factual memory statement, and I have found
that there are two others. Hence the sets of conditions
on pages 35 and 36.

Remembering That

37

III
If we can give an account of all factual memory state-

j.

ments with three sets of conditions, perhaps the general theme running through the first chapter, that no
general statement about what is involved in memory is
likely to hold up, must be weakened. For, although we
have not come up with one analysis for all "remembering that" statements, at least we have come up
with some more or less general conditions, one set for
each of three different kinds of one form of memory,
namely "rememberings" of the form "remembering
that." (Put this way, our "general claims" seem not
general at all.) But I think that other examples can be
constructed which show that even these three sets of
conditions do not adequately d~fine factual memory,
and, more important, that they cover up important
differences between even those sets of cases which fit
some one of these three sets of conditions (and, incidentally, Malcolm's set of conditions as well).
It seems to me that any memory statement of the
form "I remember that" followed by a counterfactual
is nonsensical, or perhaps better, a misuse of the term
"remember." 1 For example, I do not think we can
understand statements like "I remember that if we
had offered him more money, he would have stayed,"
or, "I remember that if the doctor had arrived on
time, he would have lived." Yet surely I may know
that he would have stayed if we offered him more
money; I may have known it at the time the offer was
made (he told me), and, supposing he died after he
told me, and had not told anyone else, if I had not
known it then, I would not know it now. (This case
10

I owe this point to Professor Emilio Roma.

The Concept of Memory

can easily be stated so as to fit my first or third set of


conditions, pages 33 and 36.) But I could not understand the statement "I remember that if we had
offered him more money, he would have stayed."
Or, consider the following cases. A person might
know that his neighbors are coming over at six
o'clock, he may have known this at t, and it may be
true that if he had not known it at t he would not now
know it. But he has forgotten it. "You knew they were
coming over. There is no excuse for your not having
remembered." Now what do we say about this case?
That it is an exception? An oddity? But surely it illustrates one perfectly straightforward connection between knowing that p and remembering that p. On
the other hand, I expect that we might have a different sort of problem in the following case: A new man
in the neighborhood assures me that he will be on
time for a meeting, and I have good evidence for his
trustworthiness. I may know that Jones will be on
time, I may have known it, and it may be true that if I
had not known it, I would not now know it. But, just
given the story here, I could not understand the statement, "I remember that Jones is going to be on time
for the meeting." (I may remember that he said he
was going to be on time, but that is not the "p" I am
considering.) On the other hand, if he had said he
was going to be late, then I might know this, have
known this at t, etc., and it would be perfectly reasonable to say that I remember that he is going to be late,
if I have not forgotten it.
We might be tempted to point to the difference between these last two cases (knowing that he will be
on time and knowing that he will be late) and say
that the reason why we cannot speak of remembering
that he will be on time here is that there is nothing

Remembering That

39

noticeable or remarkable about one's being on time.


That is, there is that difference between the case that
will not work (he is going to be on time) and the one
that will (he is going to be late). We want to say,
"There is something notable about one's being late,
even if he is always late. There is nothing remarkable
about his being on time unless he is usually late, or
unless we would ordinarily expect him to be late on
this particular occasion. If the 'on time' case were
modified to make his being on time 'noteworthy,' we
could speak of 'remembering that he is going to be on
time' here." And this is quite true. But then, we say
that that is the crucial difference just because that is
the only difference we find in comparing these two
cases. This does not mean that "noteworthiness" is an
essential ingredient to those things which one can
speak of as remembering. If we ~ad compared the "on
time" case, where one cannot speak of remembering,
with some other case where we can, we would probably find some other difference, and say that that is the
essential ingredient to something's being able to be
spoken of as being remembered. For there is nothing
particularly striking about the fact that V3 = 1.732,
nor might we have ordinarily expected it to be equal
to something else. If we had compared the "on time"
case with the V3 case, we might have said that the
"crucial" difference lay in one's being a general fact
and the other's being tied to a particular occasion, or
perhaps, the future-in this case, the person's being
on time tonight. For surely I can remember that
someone was on time
last week on the basis of his
I
telling me so. Or, if we had compared it with the case
of not being able to speak of remembering counterfactuals ( p. 3 7), we might have said that the "on
time" case resembles the counterfactual case in that

40

The Concept of Memory

both involve a "p" which cannot be known for sure


(that is, that Jones will be on time, on the one hand,
and that if such and such had happened, such and
such would have happened, on the other), and say
that an essential requirement of a fact's being spoken
of as being remembered is that one be able to know it
in some special sense of know, viz., in a sense in
which one cannot know the future, or the truth of
counterfactuals. But of course, one can remember
that something is going to happen, 11 one can remember things that are not particularly noteworthy, one
can remember truths of mathematics and truths tied
to particular occasions, even though a particular case
which lacks one of these features and cannot be
spoken of as being remembered becomes legitimate
when changed so as to incorporate one of these features. (I have in mind making sense out of speaking
of remembering that someone will be on time by making it part of the case that his being on time this time
is noteworthy.) Surely we have in these examinations
run up against what Wittgenstein has termed a "family resemblance" between cases.1 2
But even so, I suppose there are classes or groups
of cases which bear more and stronger resemblances
to each other than to cases outside such a class. We
have constantly been running into such a cluster of
cases, and I would like to examine them under the
heading of "suddenly remembering." But even here, I
suspect that cases of "suddenly remembering" differ
from each other in significant ways.
11 Malcolm notes this on p. 204 of "Three Forms of Memory"
in Knowledge and Certainty, op. cit.
12 Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations (New
York: The Macmillan Company, 1953), p. 32, par. 67.

chapter

III Suddenly
Remembering

There is a whole range of memory statements which I


feel can be profitably viewed as reports or expressions
of mental occurrences. I have in mind various examples of "suddenly remembering." Such examples
might be "~per __ _!_!ef!_~ the stud]" or
'l- jusL_!~membered_ ym.~_.:wer_~~~~ose.d.__t_!>__ :,lll __
home." If remembering of these sorts does indeed
'i"llvoive mental processes or occurrences, it might be
worthwhile to try to look into the nature of the phenomena. We want to be asking "What happens when
someone suddenly remembers soi'"etlil'i1g?"--lf we take tlils queshon seriously, if we are really
interested in "what is going on" when someone suddenly remembers something, we shall, I am afraid,
find the question too easy to answer. For we
perfectly well what things or what sorts of things
occur when someone suddenly remembers something.
Sometimes, for example, the person who suddenly re-

know}

41

42

The Concept of Memory

members something snaps his fingers and then


charges off to do something, like taking the pot off the
stove. And if these seem to be only "outward manifestations" of the real "suddenly remembering," perhaps
we might mention such things as feelings of excitement, mental pictures, a sudden intake of breath.
Have we now gotten to what is essential to suddenly
remembering? Have we now penetrated the superficial "side effects" of suddenly remembering and gotten down to the real hard-core of the occurrence or
process known as suddenly remembering? But none
of these things can be what we are after either, for all
of these might occur yet it be a case not of suddenly
remembering, but, for example, suddenly realizing or
suddenly figuring out that, or its suddenly occurring
to one, or simply suddenly being struck by the fact
that. What, then, on a particular occasion makes the
occurrence of such things into a paradigm example of
suddenly remembering? And again, we are inclined to
confine our investigation to these immediate factors,
to try to subject these phenomena to close scrutiny, to
see if somewhere we can find that which is the suddenly remembering. We are inclined to feel that a
football, wherever it is and whatever is done to it, is a
football; and, so too, a phenomenon which we point to

~xamp_!_~_9i_~Ell_remembermg, wg~

~~hene!_~r:__it __ ~~ou~?__~cc_~~ud_der.!!J_~~~plb~~.=,
~_!!_l_f.::t.f_t_,__:w~_use

this principle _to guide us in our


search for the reafiy-essenuar''g6fngson:"1rwe find
what iSCOii1mon_tO_aiiCases-of ---s-Lid.Cfen:ty remembering, if we can put our fingers on this "hard core," then
wherever and whenever it reoccurs, we have a case of
suddenly remembering.
But it is precisely because this is the sort of thing
that we want to find that we will never find it. Not

Suddenly Remembering

43

because we lack a sufficient number of candidatesthere are enough of these in the form of feelings,
images, bodily movements, and, I suppose, physiological processes-but because we will never be willing
to settle on any one of these and say "It is this one."
And the reason why we will not settle on any one or
combination of these as composing the essence of
suddenly remembering is that none of these phenomena are in themselves or in combination either necessary or sufficient for the occurrence of the phenomenon of suddenly remembering. For one can suddenly
remember without snapping his fingers, without having a feeling of excitement or relief or elation, without
saying that he has remembered, without doing anything apropos of what he remembered, without picturing anything. And one can have an image of a boiling
pot come to mind, have a feeling\of excitement come
over him, snap his fingers and run to turn off the stove,
but not have suddenly remembered that he left the
stove on; he had suddenly decided to eat somewhere
else. In this case, the snap of the fingers was not an
expression of suddenly remembering, but a snap of "By
gosh, I'll do it." (The mental image of the pot boiling
may have been part of his dismal contemplation of
another meal at home.) And, of course, in order for
someone to suddenly remember that he left the pot on
the stove, he must have left the pot on the stove. And
if he did not leave the pot on the stove, then, no matter what process or feeling or image or movement
takes place, it is not suddenly remembering that the
pot was on the stove. And unless the pot's boiling is in
some way relevant to the person's intentions, desires,
etc., 1 then, although he may find himself thinking
1 What sorts of things satisfy the "relevancy" condition will
be brought out in examples below.

44

The Concept of Memory

about its being on the stove, nevertheless he cannot be


said to suddenly remember that it is on the stove.
This point, as it stands, is not too clear, but it is an
extremely important one.
Suppose that I visited my friend's house last night,
and I was talking with him while he was making
coffee, and that I knew that the pot had been boiling,
for I removed it from the stove for him. And now suppose that the next evening I suddenly have a feeling
of excitement, and I have in my mind a picture of a
pot boiling on a stove. (What, incidentally, makes
this a picture of his pot? Could one discover this by
looking more carefully at "what is going on" in me
when I have this image of a pot? Yet one would assume that when having an image of x constitutes
suddenly remembering something about x, this is partially because it is x that is being pictured.) We might
say, in an attempt to give a "neutral" description of
what has happened, that I am suddenly struck by the
fact that the pot on the stove was boiling. (Of course,
even this is granting a lot. As the case was stated here,
I could be struck by the fact that it was coffee in the
pot, or that the pot was red, or that the top was on the
pot, or that the pot was on such and such a burner,
etc. Will a careful study of what was "going on in me"
tell us which it was? How would we go about finding
this out?) Now, considering "suddenly remembering"
as one kind of "being struck by," what general conditions would have to be met for this "being struck by
the fact that the pot was boiling" to be a case of "suddenly remembering that the pot was boiling"? It is not
hard to dream up a story which would satisfy the conditions. It is very hard to say generally what these conditions are. For example, suppose that on the evening
in question, the gas was cut off in my friend's house,

Suddenly Remembering

45

and I am trying to determine at about what time


this occurred. I may now be casting about for some
clue and am suddenly struck by the fact that the
pot was boiling while I was talking to Smith. Given
such a setting, it would also make sense for me to say
"I just remembered something-the coffee pot was
boiling when I was talking to Smith; that was at about
ten-thirty, so the gas must have gone off after that.
. . ." The contextual situation in this example does
not just give point to my saying "I just remembered
. . . ," but if there was nothing in the situation in
which I fmd myself struck (by the fact that the coffee
pot was boiling) to which the fact that the coffee pot
was boiling is relevant, then this particular case of
"being struck by" is not a case of suddenly remembering. It may be a case of a picture of that coffee pot
protruding itself upon my thoughts (which may be
quite an alarming thing if it keeps happening); indeed, if all we have built into the case is that I suddenly picture the pot, and this is accompanied with a
feeling of excitement, it could be only that I have just
landed on a good example for a philosophical paperthe boiling coffee pot at my friend's house last night.
So this is not even a case of suddenly being struck by
the fact that, much less a case of suddenly remembering. This would be a case of suddenly coming up with
a case which fits some requirements. And what "went
on" at just that time when I came up with it could be
just exactly what "went on" in another context; but in
that situation, it would be suddenly remembering.
(Whether it is suddenly remembering or not might
depend on what he does later, for instance, call his
friend or go out to dinner.)
In exemplifying the sorts of contexts in which it
would or would not make sense to say "I just remem-

The Concept of Memory

bered" or some other "suddenly remember" phrase,


one is not always just making points about remarkability. I think that even the superficial treatment
given the boiling pot -(;;ei~gh to show th~
same ""occiifrence," aS" specmeOT:ilTe'Uiis of feelln.g8;"Tmages,physical movements,
would-in one con"'i:exf be suddenly remembetiiig-arrcr1ii'"ano~ther some~hing quite different,.~ And we in!gllt" i~y-thitthe
i-eason why in som~ contexts we could not understand
someone who used a "suddenly remember" locution is
that in this context, with this feature present or this
feature absent, whatever "went on" in him, it could
not have been suddenly remembering. Of course,
there are also comments about when it would be
pointless or tactless or boorish or foolish to say that
one had just remembered something, yet it still might
have been the case that one did. For example, I might
suddenly remember that I was supposed to tell Jones
something, but if I said so now, in the presence of his
wife, it might embarrass him, as I was supposed to
tell him to call his mistress. And, indeed, we might
say of this case, "True, one would not say in this context, 'I just remembered-you were supposed to call
Ann'; but, nevertheless, it could still be true that he
did suddenly remember that his friend was supposed
to make this call." But on the other hand, frequently,
when we find something odd about saying, in a certain situation, "I just remembered . . . ," this fact
goes much deeper. And, in fact, unless certain conditions are met, unless what is remembered is in some
way relevant to what is happening now (we will see
some of these ways of being relevant in Part II below,
in addition to the coffee pot discussion above), then
indeed one would not say that he suddenly remem-

etc.,

Suddenly Remembering

47

bered, but here he would not say so because, whatever


happened, it could not be understood as being a case
of suddenly remembering.
This section began with an attempt to determine
the phenomenological characteristics of suddenly remembering. But we have found that this is not a
fruitful approach. "Suddenly remembering" does indeed name a mental occurrence or episode. When I
say "I just remembered . . . ," I am giving voice to
something which just happened. What "just happened" may be, for instance, that I just had a mental
image, and nothing else. I see no reason not to say
that in such cases, the suddenly remembering consisted of the having of a mental image. However, it
must be realized that this same image, occurring in a
different context, could not be taken as a case of suddenly remembering. It may not\ be possible to discover, in general terms, what such contextual conditions are. However, it is easy enough to construct
cases where these conditions are absent, that is, cases
such that unless some contextual suppositions are
added, the having of this image or feeling cannot be
considered a case of suddenly remembering.
I would now like to go into the various species of
suddenly remembering in some detail, using the same
sort of techniques, to see if they can be distinguished
from each other in any informative way.

II
Three different sorts of "rememberings" immediately
suggest themselves as examples of suddenly remembering. I have in mind:

The Concept of Memory

(A)-"Oh, say, I just remembered that I have to.


(B )-"Ah, yes, now I remember . . . ."
(C)-"Say, that reminds me . . . ."
Let us begin with a consideration of what sorts of
things can follow "I just remembered," or rather,
what sorts of things cannot follow this locution:
(I )-"I just remembered-! was a very active child."
( 2 )-"I
just remembered-'Stardust' goes like
this. . . "
( 3 )-"I just remembered-the thirtieth President
was . . . ."

I
II
tll

II

(If one tries to think of a context in which one of


these might be said, I think that he will find that
"Now I remember" goes much better.)
I think that the following will follow the locution in
question, given special background circumstances:

(I )-"I just remembered something-the stores are


closed on Friday nights." (We are planning to
buy something on Friday night for the party.)
(2)-"I just remembered something-Jones has a
cold." (We had just decided to have Jones introduce the speaker.)

Even in these cases, one wants to say "I just remembered something," rather than simply "I just remembered," or perhaps, "No, wait, I just remembered.
. . ." What these cases seem to suggest is that what
one remembers has to be relevant in a particular way
to what one is talking about, proposing, or in some
other way engaged in at the time, such as planning
something, or building something.
Finally, we come to rather straightforward cases of
"just remembered" where there need not be any spe-

(.,

Suddenly Remembering

49

cial circumstances, or at least the circumstances are


less special :
(I )-"1 just remembered; I wanted to get these letters
mailed today." (Of course, I say this only if I still
want to get them mailed.)
(2)-"I just remembered; I have to be home at six
o'clock tonight."

I think that the only requirements for making these


utterances intelligible is that whatever I am doing or
about to do would interfere, if continued beyond a
certain time, with what I intended to do. One might
also note that here one only speaks of remembering
what one does want and/or intend to do. They are
different from the preceding group in just this way.
(3 )-"1 just remembered-! was1.supposed to be home
at six o'clock tonight."
One may want to speak here of the requirement
that the person believe that he did have to be home at
six, but this sort of requirement is not peculiar to this
example or even to the general class of memory statements we are considering here.
Cases of the form of (C) above ("That reminds
me") seem to have much in common with cases of
form (A). Just as "I just remembered . . ."is usually
followed by something one has to do, so, too, "That
reminds me . . ." is followed by such things as "I
was supposed to give you a message," "Your wife called
and said that you had to . . . ," "I have to go over to
the . . . ." In general, then, one is reminded that he
has to do something, and not infrequently this something is to tell someone something.
There is, however, another class of locutions which
follows "That reminds me." This locution frequently

so

The Concept of Memory

signals the beginning of a story or a joke; hence,


"That reminds me of the time I . . ." or "That reminds me of the joke where. . . ." 2
It is obvious how this last small group differs from
"I just remembered" statements. For one "just remembers" only things that one intended to do (including telling someone something) or things which
are relevant to what one is (or was) engaged in. The
differences between statements of form (A) and
those of form (C) (other than cases like "That reminds me of the time . . . ") are buried more deeply.
One differentiating feature is that statements of form
(C) ("That reminds me-your wife called") are only
intelligible if there is some sort of connection between
what was just said or seen and what one was reminded of. Thus, "Do you have a cigarette?" could
only bring the response "Say, that reminds me, your
wife called" if there is some connection between the
two things, the request for a cigarette and the wife's
having called. Such a connection would be made if
the person had said, "That reminds me-your wife
called and asked me to tell you to bring home some
cigarettes." It is very difficult to characterize just
what sort of connection it is that has to exist between
what one is reminded of and what reminds him of it.
"But that's easy. It is a key word, which is associated
with what one is reminded of." But of course that
does not help. For not any word can be the key word.
Nor will any association do (as psychologists, for example, talk about associations) but only what I want
to call "natural associations in the particular context"
2 Also included in this sub-group are such cases as meeting
someone who reminds me of someone else I once knew, or a
house which reminds me of the house I lived in as a child.
Finally, "remind" has a performative use, as when my secretary
reminds me that I have an appointment.

Suddenly Remembering

51

(or, perhaps, natural associations as determined by


the context). But we can say no more about what
these natural associations are than we can about what
things can intelligibly be said to have reminded someone of something.
"But surely," one might argue, "anything might remind me of anything, just as long as what someone
says triggers off the right response. For what goes on
when someone is reminded of something? Just that
he hears something or sees something, and suddenly
he remembers something. Who are you, then, to say
what limit there is on the sorts of things that someone
can be reminded of by what someone else says or
does? Isn't this an empirical question? Surely there is
no a priori reason why any one thing might not remind me of any other."
I suppose the answer to this q..lestion is simply that
not every (occurrence of) remembering is called
"being reminded." Consider the following cases:
(I) I know there is something I was supposed to
tell you, and I cannot think of what it is. I try to remember. You say, bored by my silence, "Do you have
a cigarette?" I say, "That's it. I was supposed to ask
you to get some cigarettes." (One cannot be reminded
of something he was supposed to do if he is trying to
think of it.) The point is, one just does not say, in this
situation, "That reminds me . . . . " 3 Nor would we
say, in the third person, that what he said reminded
me of what I was trying to think of; rather, we would
say that his mentioning cigarettes made me or helped
me remember, even though there was the right kind
of connection between what he said and what I re3 Or, alternatively, if one does say, in this situation, "That
reminds me," then what he was reminded of cannot be that
which he was trying to think of.

52

The Concept of Memory

membered, so that in a situation where I was not trying to remember, I could have said "That reminds

i
I

I,,

i Ii'l
1

me."
(2) We are on the way to a bar to get a beer, and
you say to me, "Hurry up; I'm not going to wait all
day." I say, "O.K. Let's go. Oh, wait, I just remembered, I have to pick up a file from the office." Here,
with only this given in the situation, I could not intelligibly have said, instead of what I did say, "Say, that
reminds me, I have to . . . ,"or "Now I remember,
I was supposed to pick up. . . ." (I could only have
said the latter if I had been trying to remember what
I was supposed to do or had wanted to do.)
(3) I have been trying to think of what I was supposed to do before I went home today, and a friend is
trying to help. He says, "Was there something you
were to take home, or did you have some letters to
mail, or did you have an appointment?" And as he is
saying this, I remember, and say "Oh, now I remember, I had to give my key to the janitor to have another one made." I could not intelligibly have said
"That reminds me-l had to give my key . . . ," nor
could I have said "I just remembered something-!
was supposed to . . ." unless what I remember here
is not what I was trying to remember.
These three examples were simply illustrations of
the sort of factors which determine whether a particular case of suddenly remembering is a case of "just
remembering," being reminded, or, if you will, finally
thinking of what one was trying to remember. And
now we can perhaps summarize what we have found.
(A) "Oh, say, I just remembered that . . . ." One
can only say this in cases where what one remembers
is or is relevant to what one intended or wanted to do

Suddenly Remembering

53

(including telling someone something, for instance,


delivering a message, or telling him something you
thought of when he was not around). 4 One cannot
employ this locution, or, one does not "suddenly remember" in this sense, if one has just been actively
engaged in trying to remember, or if what someone
says or something I see makes me think of it.
(B) "Oh, yes, now I remember . . ." or simply,
"Now I remember." This form of suddenly remembering requires that one should have been trying to think
of something, and it rules out the possibility that
something in the situation made him think of it. This
is not much different from the case where I am trying
to remember and someone guesses what I was trying
to remember or says something that does help me remember, and the locution here changes to something
like "That's it-that's what I ~as trying to remember." This form of remembering, then, seems to be
differentiated from that in (A) by the fact that I have
to be trying to recall something. Also, this form of sud4 One may want to argue that there is nothing wrong with
"I just remembered-the outposts are located at . . . ." But this
would be sensible only in a situation like the following: The
man who says this is discussing tactical maneuvers, and they
want to run them in zone B. The Colonel then says, "Wait, I
just remembered-the out},'osts are located in zone B, so we will
have to change the plans. Although this is different from "just
remembered" where one remembers (in time) what one intended or wanted to do, nevertheless we see how it "hooks up"
necessarily with what one was involved in.
We have here some clue to the oddity we found (pp. 3839) about "I just remembered-Jones is going to be on time,"
whereas there was no such oddity in "I just remembered-Jones
is going to be late." For in the latter, we can easily see how
Jones's being late might affect our plans. But unless we had
expected Jones to be late and had planned accordingly, we do
not have the prerequisites to give sense to "I just remembered
-Jones is going to be on time."

54

The Concept of Memory

denly remembering is not limited to remembering


something I intended or wanted to do, in the way (A)
is.
(C) "That reminds me . . . ." The circumstances
surrounding the employment of this locution are that
one not be trying to remember the thing that he is
reminded of-thus distinguishing this sort of suddenly remembering from cases like (B)-and that
there be some connection between what I am reminded of and what reminds me of it-thus distinguishing (C) from (A). I would like to be able to say
just what sort of connection is needed here, but on
the other hand there is no need to suppose that there
is only one sort of connection. Nor does our not being
able to say hinder us from being able to recognize
those connections which make the employment of
this locution intelligible. (I should suspect that it may
be a signal of a mental disorder or instability if one
says "That reminds me" where there is no such obvious connection, at least if he does this frequently. It
would be extremely interesting to examine the relationship between symptoms of such disorders and
what might be called by philosophers "misuses of language.")
It is interesting to note that statements of form (A)
have the "memory" verb in the past tense, while the
other two sorts of "suddenly remembering" have the
memory verb in the present tense. One might notice
this about similar locutions like "I just realized," "It
just occurred to me," "It just struck me that," or "I
just thought of something." All of these locutions, including "I just remembered," suggest interruption. By
this I mean that one says these things when what one
so remembers or thinks of, or what hits one or occurs
to one, is something that would interrupt or interfere

Suddenly Remembering

55

with what one is doing or planning to do. (We just


noticed this in footnote 4, where the Colonel suddenly
remembers that the outposts are located in zone B,
this fact being relevant to the plans they are discussing in that they would now have to change them.) It
seems hard to believe that this feature could be entailed by the use of the past tense. But then, why
should we expect anything different before we have
taken the time to look at our language, and, thus, our
concepts?
It is natural, when in a philosophical frame of
mind, to try to give simple characterizations of what a
given concept involves. We have seen that in the case
of memory, such an attempt is doomed to failure. The
term "memory" ranges over a large number of kinds
of things, for example, memorization, remembering
that, and suddenly rememberin!\. We are now about
to expand this list and to consider memory of people,
things, and events, that is to say, memory of the form
"I remember him," "I remember seeing him perform,"
"I remember that song," and so on. Since I hope to
show that these forms do not essentially involve mental experiences, I have entitled the next chapter accordingly. However, we will be returning to "suddenly
remembering" in Chapter V, where an attempt will be
made to show that even the paradigm cases of memory qua episode depend conceptually on non-episodic
memory .

.,it;;>

chapter

I think that any analysis of memory is very likely to go


wrong if it attempts to construe memory statements
generally as statements about the present "state" of
the person who makes them, that is, if we think of
them as a particular kind of report instead of a particular kind of claim; or, alternatively, if we think of
memory statements as generally being claims about
the person who makes the claim, rather than about
something else; or, once again, if we think of memory
statements as essentially reports that the "claimer" is
remembering, rather than claims that such and such
(which he previously knew) is the case. Now, of
course, memory statements are sometimes essentially
claims about the claimer, rather than about what he
claims to remember. But sometimes not. And I would
like to argue that there could be no memory statement
as a claim about the claimer unless there were memory claims about something else. That is, there could

i
'

IV Non-Episodic
Memory

'

s6

57

Non-Episodic Memory

be no memory statements as first person "reports" of


remembering unless there were memory statements
which were claims about something else. (I would include under the latter memory statements about what
I did or what happened to me. This will be made clear
as we proceed.) And, in fact, I want to argue that
whenever one makes a memory statement which
could be construed as a report of the "activity" of remembering, the analysis of such a statement contains
reference to memory statements as statements essentially about something other than "what is 'going on
in' the claimer." And, indeed, we have to get clear on
just what someone is doing when he makes various
memory claims before we can see what the relationship ( s) is (are) between memory and various mental
occurrences or processes.

I
There are several considerations which might make
one think of memory statements as some sort of report, more specifically, a report about the person who
makes it to the effect that he remembers something,
that he houses the phenomenon or experience of "remembering." Several examples which make it look as
though memory statements are such reports are:
(I )-I am sure that if he had been there, I would remember it.
( 2 )-Yes, I do remember him.
(3)-Well, I seemed to remember him saying that
(said after I am convinced that he did not say
it).

How do such statements tend to make us think of


all memory statements as some sort of report about

ss

The Concept of Memory

the person who makes them, to the effect that he is


doing something which could be called remembering,
,, or has something which could be called a memory experience? Example (I ) above is the most tempting
one. The suggestion here is that there is something
missing in me which would be present had I seen him,
namely a memory experience. And it then looks as if,
if I did remember seeing him and claimed that I did
remember seeing him, I would be reporting the
presence of this memory experience. Thus, in example ( 2), I am reporting the existence in me of a memory experience, or at least claiming that I could do
something which could be called remembering him or
could have something present to my mind which
could be called an "active" memory of him, so that
when I later do go on to talk about him from memory,
I am reporting the occurrence (existence) of remembering (a memory experience). And example ( 3)
above might be taken as a claim to the effect that I
had an experience like a memory experience, except
that I now realize that it was not memory, since I
"remembered falsely." But as an experience, it was
just like the times when I do remember.
From a cursory look at these three examples, then,
we come to picture memory statements as reports.
And when we come to such statements as "I remember that he was rather flushed when he came in," we
tend to think of this, at least partially, as a report or
claim not about the condition of the person when he
came in but rather about me, to the effect that I am
doing something (remembering) or having something (a memory experience).
It is extremely fashionable to make a distinction
between two uses of certain psychological terms,
which we may call for sake of discussion the "disposi-

r'

:1,:

Non-Episodic Memory

59

tional" and the "occurrence" or "goings-on" use. Thus,


philosophers might want to distinguish such occurrences of remember as "Yes, I remember him" or "I
am sure he remembers what happened" from such
uses as "I remember that he was very pudgy" or "I
remember that I hit the doorpost," where the first two
statements are not claims about what the person who
remembers is doing, but what he could do. Thus, the
former use of "remember" states that the person
could do something, namely remember in the second
use or sense. Now, I have no objection to this distinction per se. I think that many confusions have been
avoided by making such a point. But I think that the
distinction which is crudely outlined here does only
part of the job. It does not give us an analysis of the
statements which are presumably connected with the
exercise of the disposition. That is, when it is pointed
out that a certain use of "remember" only implies that
the person could do something, this does not yet tell
us what he is doing when he does it. Thus, one could
admit that when one says "Yes, I do remember him,"
he is only claiming that he could do certain things, for
example, describe him from memory, yet still claim
that when he makes these memory claims (I remember that he was quite tall, and that he was always
. . . ) he is reporting something about himself,
namely, that he remembers, or has certain presently
"activated" memories, or "memory experiences."
I think that it is not hard to show that such a view
of the nature of the non-dispositional memory claim
is untenable as a general thesis. Perhaps we can focus
on what has gone wrong by considering non-memory
examples. If someone asks me what I am thinking
about and I say "The party last night," this is a statement about me, not about the party. And if I go on to

.:

r I
6o

The Concept of Memory

describe what I was thinking about in detail, under the


heading of what I was thinking about, I am still talking about myself, "reporting." Now, of course, I can
just think about the party, or I can tell what I was
thinking, or I can simply describe the party. And it
may tum out that in telling what I was thinking
about, I give a description of the party, and it may
tum out that in giving a description of the party, I am
also telling what I am thinking about. Both cases tum
on whether or not I happen to be thinking of the party
when I am asked either to describe the party or say
what I am thinking. So it surely would not tum out
that every time I describe a party, I am also therein
giving a report of what I am thinking about. Suppose
now that someone asks me to describe the party and I
begin: "It was very noisy, and everyone was. . . ."
Suppose that I stop now and then, in describing the
party, to think about it. Does it follow that my description of the party is now a report about me, about
what I am thinking? Is my description to be construed not as a description of the party but rather a
report of what thoughts I have? I think that the answer here has to be no. If I have to stop to think in
order to describe the party, that does not make the
description "really" a report of what I am thinking
about. Reporting what I am thinking and reporting
what the party was like are two different things, two
different human activities, and it would be absurd to
think of one as just a species of the other. Of course,
someone might make certain inferences about me or
about what I think or am thinking from what I say
about the party, but that does not make my description
or report of the party a description of or report about
me, or even a description of or report about me as
well. "If he had done what you claim, then in de-

Non-Episodic Memory

61

scribing the party, I would have thought of it." But


this does not show that when I report on or describe
the party, I am reporting the occurrence of thoughts
and/or describing these thoughts. Of course, someone
might ask me to describe the party, not because he
wants to know about the party but because he is interested in how or what I think of it, or even what is
going on in me by way of thoughts, feelings, etc. But
this does not make my description of the party a report of how or what I think of it, or what is going on
in me by way of thoughts, feelings, etc. Nor is my
report of the party "partially" a report about these
things or "partially" about me.
How do these points apply to memory statements?
I think that the same sort of feeling which might
make someone want to say that when someone is describing a party, what he is rea.Jty doing is reporting
thoughts he is having about the party, may also make
someone want to say that whenever someone describes the party from memory or makes a memory
statement about the party (I remember that . . . ) he
is reporting the occurrence of the phenomenon of remembering. And I think that what is behind both
these positions is a certain view of language, the view
that language "expresses" or "reports" or "describes"
my present thoughts, feelings, experiences, "ideas."
Now, indeed, one does do these things "with" a language. But it is the peculiarity of this view that it
turns out that this is the only thing for which language can be used. And when one has this view, it is
easy to see how paradigmatic are such statements as
"I believe you are right," "I think it goes like this," "I
remember him well." Of course, one might begin to
object to this view by pointing out that "I believe you
are right" is just another way of saying "You are

II
/..

\,;
!'

.,,

6o

II'

The Concept of Memory

describe what I was thinking about in detail, under the


heading of what I was thinking about, I am still talking about myself, "reporting." Now, of course, I can
just think about the party, or I can tell what I was
thinking, or I can simply describe the party. And it
may turn out that in telling what I was thinking
about, I give a description of the party, and it may
turn out that in giving a description of the party, I am
also telling what I am thinking about. Both cases turn
on whether or not I happen to be thinking of the party
when I am asked either to describe the party or say
what I am thinking. So it surely would not turn out
that every time I describe a party, I am also therein
giving a report of what I am thinking about. Suppose
now that someone asks me to describe the party and I
begin: "It was very noisy, and everyone was . . . ."
Suppose that I stop now and then, in describing the
party, to think about it. Does it follow that my description of the party is now a report about me, about
what I am thinking? Is my description to be construed not as a description of the party but rather a
report of what thoughts I have? I think that the answer here has to be no. If I have to stop to think in
order to describe the party, that does not make the
description "really" a report of what I am thinking
about. Reporting what I am thinking and reporting
what the party was like are two different things, two
different human activities, and it would be absurd to
think of one as just a species of the other. Of course,
someone might make certain inferences about me or
about what I think or am thinking from what I say
about the party, but that does not make my description
or report of the party a description of or report about
me, or even a description of or report about me as
well. "If he had done what you claim, then in de-

Non-Episodic Memory

61

scribing the party, I would have thought of it." But


this does not show that when I report on or describe
the party, I am reporting the occurrence of thoughts
and/or describing these thoughts. Of course, someone.
might ask me to describe the party, not because he
wants to know about the party but because he is interested in how or what I think of it, or even what is
going on in me by way of thoughts, feelings, etc. But
this does not make my description of the party a report of how or what I think of it, or what is going on
in me by way of thoughts, feelings, etc. Nor is my
report of the party "partially" a report about these
things or "partially" about me.
How do these points apply to memory statements?
I think that the same sort of feeling which might
make someone want to say that when someone is describing a party, what he is real}y doing is reporting
thoughts he is having about the party, may also make
someone want to say that whenever someone describes the party from memory or makes a memory
statement about the party (I remember that . . . ) he
is reporting the occurrence of the phenomenon of remembering. And I think that what is behind both
these positions is a certain view of language, the view
that language "expresses" or "reports" or "describes"
my present thoughts, feelings, experiences, "ideas."
Now, indeed, one does do these things "with" a language. But it is the peculiarity of this view that it
turns out that this is the only thing for which language can be used. And when one has this view, it is
easy to see how paradigmatic are such statements as
"I believe you are right," "I think it goes like this," "I
remember him well." Of course, one might begin to
object to this view by pointing out that "I believe you
are right" is just another way of saying "You are

The Concept of Memory

right." (Similar things could be said for the other examples). But the argument can just as easily be run
the other way. One might take this equivalence of expressions as showing that statements like "You are
right" are really reports to the effect that I am of the
belief that you are right and hence are not claims
about you but about me.
I do not wish to bring the question to a discussion
of the nature or uses of language. I merely wish to
indicate what I feel to be at the base of the feeling
that memory statements are a kind of report about the
person who is making them, to the effect that he is
doing or experiencing something which might be
called remembering. There are really two views involved, then. One view is that a memory claim is
really a report about the person making the claim;
and this view is coupled with the view that what one
is reporting when one claims to remember something
is the "memory experience."
This whole view,'made up of the two parts mentioned above, is particularly tempting with memory as
its target. It is tempting because it is easy to think of
memory as an experience or phenomenon or occurrence, and hence to think of memory statements as
reporting such an experience or occurrence. If we
could separate the memory claim from any kind of
experience, if we could show that indeed a memory
claim is "about" something other than the present
state of the person making it, then the need to look
for the "experience" or "phenomenon" or "occurrence"
(including memory images) would become less compelling. What is needed, then, is a positive account of
memory statements, and hopefully an account which
is complete without recourse to "experiences" and

Non-Episodic Memory

"occurrences." And one way to get such an account


would be to show that memory claims are not about
the person making the claim. It is to this project that
we now turn.
It may help to get a better insight into the nature of
a whole class of memory statements to compare them
with other sorts of statements. 1 Consider estimating.
Someone might ask me if I can give him an estimate
of how many people were invited to a certain party, or
he might ask me if I know how many people were
invited to a certain party. or he can ask me if I remember how many people were invited to a certain
party. Usually, if someone asks "Could you give me
an estimate?" or "Do you know how many?" or "Do
you remember how many?" he does not expect "Yes"
or "No" for an answer. Of course, he might. And we
might say that if this is the sort of question he is asking. then he is asking if I could do something. namely
tell him how many, or approximately how many, people were invited to the party. Now. my knowledge of
how many people were invited could come from various "sources," or I could give various "grounds" for
my claim about how many people were invited. In this
case, my claim would be based on an estimate (which
in turn could be based on a number of things). In
another case it might be based on an invitation list
which I saw or drew up previously. or it could be
based on a list which I have in front of me. If I claim
to remember that fifty-eight people were invited, I am
not only claiming that fifty-eight people were invited,
1 See B. S. Benjamin, "Remembering," Mind, LXV (July,
19.)6), .324, for a similar approaeb to analyzing "remember"
statements. I do think, however, that where our discussions do
nm parallel, my analysis is sufficiently different from his to warrant its statement.

The Concept of Memory

but that this claim has a certain sort of basis. If, for
example, I were basing this claim on a calculation
which I just made on the basis of how many people
were invited to previous parties of this sort, I could
not say that I remember, but rather, that I would
guess, or estimate, that . . . . Of course, a claim that
my claim is based on certain factors, such as a previous knowledge of how many people were on the list,
or a claim that I came by this information in one of a
number of ways, rather than one of a number of
others, might be construed as a claim about me. But it
is not a claim about me now, about my present
thoughts, experiences, mental activities, etc. Thus, if
I claim to remember seeing Jones spill the drink, I
am, I would say, claiming two things. First, I am
claiming that Jones did spill the drink, and secondly,
I am claiming that I came by that information by having witnessed it. If we want to now say that, after all,
this is partially a claim about me, namely, that I witnessed his spilling"the drink, fair enough. But it is not
a claim about my present state. It is not a report that I
am doing something now, namely remembering
something, as we might have reports from people to
the effect that they are presently reminiscing. But
then, we do not even have a locution of the form "I
am remembering . . . ," a form in which we would
expect such a report to be phrased, if there were such
a thing.
There is, then, a large class of first person memory
statements which are dispositional in character.
When a person makes such a claim, he is claiming
that he -is in a position to make other memory claims
which are not dispositional. And when he makes
these, he is claiming that something is the case and

Non-Episodic Memory

f
I

that he knows that it is the case on a special sort of


authority, namely, previous knowledge, which in
some cases he claims to have acquired in a way which
itself gives him special authority (as in "I remember
seeing it"). (Third person memory statements will be
given a similar account.) Thus, "I remember the
party" is dispositional, in the sense that I am claiming
to know of the party, perhaps from having been there,
and to be able to describe it in more or less detail
from this previous knowledge; and, in some contexts,
I am claiming to be able to describe it from having witnessed it, which gives my description special authority. Then, when and if I do make claims about the
party under the heading of memory claims, 2 such as
"It was very noisy, and everyone was . . . ," I am
now claiming that that was how the party was and
that I know how it was from previous knowledge
(frequently, I am claiming to know these things from
having been there). Sometimes, then, remembering
means being able to make such claims, and sometimes it just means making them. If this seems
strange, then perhaps we should say that memory
claims are of two different general sorts, and that "remembering" is a bogus phenomenon. And this should
not be surprising, for there is no such use of the term
"remembering" as "I am remembering." People do remember things, but that is just to say that they can
and do make memory claims. And what makes it a
memory claim is that the person is claiming special
authority for the claim, not that he is doing something
special. (And people, when they claim that they could
make these claims, or when they are actually making
2 I mean by this only that every statement need nqt be prefixed by "I remember."

66

The Concept of Memory

them, may or may not be having mental imagery. But


so, too, they may or may not be having imagery when
they make any claim. See Chapter VIII.)
Third person memory statements are generally of
the dispositional sort, but not always. "He remembers
such and such" is sometimes the claim that he could
make sincere authoritative statements 3 about such
and such or to the effect that such and such. Sometimes such a locution is an exclamation to the effect
that he has made such claims and that they were correct. Thus, when the lover has described the first
meeting, this might be greeted with the exclamation,
"You remember!" or "He remembers!"
"Remembering" might be considered a generic
term for what happens when someone makes a memory claim, but what happens when someone makes a
memory claim is that he makes a memory claim. And
that has no aura of mystery about it. We see people
making, and we ourselves make, claims all the time.
Sometimes we claim, for these claims, a certain basis.
And sometimes the ~asis which we claim for these
claims is our having previously known or witnessed
something. "I remember," then, might be considered
to be a claim about a claim, just as "I would guess
that" or "It seems to me that" or "I predict that" are in
a way claims about claims, to the effect that they are
only guesses, or that they are predictions, and hence
based on evidence, etc. Of course, not all predictions
begin "I predict"; but to understand that it is a prediction is to understand what sort of authority, or lack of
it, is being claimed for the claim. There is, then, a use
of remember in which I am claiming to be able to do
something, and a use of remember in which I am
doing it. But when I am doing it, I am not "remembers Such authority coming from previous knowledge.

'

Non-Episodic Memory

ing" (since there is nothing called "remembering"


which is anything I could be doing), but making a
claim of a certain sort. 4
But if remembering is to be understood in terms of
making correct claims, or perhaps the ability to make
them, then what are we to make of such things as
practice in remembering? What is someone doing
wh-"f't'he, for example, takes a course to improve his
memory? Is this to be called learning how to make
claims and how to claim a certain sort of authority for
them? Well, not quite. But neither is it learning to
have a certain experience. If we just add that practice
in memory is the acquiring of the ability to get things
right, then I think we are getting closer to it. Of
course, this does not mean getting it right any old way
but getting it right (simply) on the basis of having
known it before. And I think that if we consider such
things as memory courses or practice in remembering, or any claim to remember, if the person gets it
right, and we rule out such things as his having figured it out or his having just found out, and we know
that he knew it before and he does not claim to be
guessing, 5 then we have enough to say that he actually does remember. I think we can give a similar account of such statements as "I am sure that if he had
4 I do not think that my use of the term "claim" would stand
up under fire. We say "He claims that he was there, and that
he knows about it from having been there" in challenging such
a statement as "I remember being there." To call something a
claim is to bring it under suspicion. But I think my point can
be seen in spite of this choice of terms. I think this is the
best term for the point I am trying to make, and I suspect that
any word would have some connotations that I did not want
to be present. I think this comes closest.
5 Of course, sometimes we might not believe him if he says
he is guessing, particularly if it is unlikely enough that someone
could guess the facts in question.

68

The Concept of Memory

been there, I would remember it." This would mean


not that I would now be having certain experiences,
but that I would be ai:He to say what he did, how he
looked, etc., and perhaps also that I would be able to
visualize things (viz. him) as they were, and feel that
that was how they were. And in cases where I can do
such things and get them right, and my knowledge of
how things were comes from my having been there
and seen him, then I do remember. But here, "remember" means being able to do these things. When I
go on to describe what I claimed to remember, I am
not doing something which can be called "remembering" but rather "cashing in" on my earlier claim.
(Thus, should I have an image which I take to be how
things were, then I could be either thinking about the
party, or about Jones at the party, or trying to remember, or reminiscing [if it happened long enough ago];
but none of these could be described as "remembering
the party" or "relllembering Jones at the party," as
these are not things someone could be doing.)
Our other two cases (p. 57) can likewise be accounted for without recourse to a memory experience.
We have already dealt with example (2) (Yes, I do
remember him) and have concluded that this is a
claim to the effect that I could correctly describe him
and tell about my experiences with him, such ability coming from this previous acquaintance.6 And
finally, when, upon agreeing that a memory claim I
have made is false, I say "Well, I seemed to remema Sometimes "I remember him" might mean only that I know
who it is you are talking about. People sometimes introduce
discussion of a person or thing or event with such a question
as "Do you remember that time we . . . ?" or "Do you remember the woman who used to . . . ?" What is being asked, in
such cases, is whether or not I know to whom or what he is
referring, not whether I could describe whatever it is he asks
about.

6g

Non-Episodic Memory

her," I am not claiming that I did nevertheless have a


"seeming memory" experience; rather, I am asserting
that I was indeed prepared to claim that he did say it,
and that I knew ne said it from having heard him say
it, and perhaps also that I am still half inclined to
stick to this claim, even though I am "mostly" confinced to the contrary. 7

II
The next question I would like to examine is, could
we have such things as "remembering" in the dispositional sense (He remembers it; yes, I remember him;
yes, I remember it) if we did not have non-dispositional memory claims (I remember that such and
such; I remember her expression-she looked like
this)?
Let us begin with another look at the relationship
between dispositional and non-dispositional memory.
The distinction between dispositional uses of remember ("I remember him") and non-dispositional uses of
remember ("I remember that he was very thin, had
bright blue eyes . . .") is not a particularly sharp
7 We are now in a position to show what is odd about such
statements as "I remember that if the doctor had arrived on
time, he would have lived." (Chapter II, p. 37) Counterfactuals are, in a sense, always judgments rather than immediately
verifiable truths. One who states a counterfactual, then, is in a
way offering a kind of judgment or guess or speculation, rather
than, for instance, a report. Inasmuch as stating counterfactuals
is a matter of speculation, and prefacing a statement with "I
remember that . . . " is to claim special authority, the two
illocutionary forces involved are at odds, the one being something like "I speculate that" and the other something like "I
have special authority to claim the truth of the following." This
is not to deny that one can be very confident about what is still
a speculation. Hence, "I am sure that if the doctor had arrived
on time, he would have lived," or even "I know that if the
doctor had arrived on time he would have lived."

70

The Concept of Memory

one. I think that this might be brought out by putting


the distinction in terms of "cashing in" on the dispositional memory claim. Suppose someone asks me if I
remember my high school. If I answer "Yes, I do,"
then I am claiming that I could (correctly) describe
it, and that my ability to describe it, should I do so,
would be "based" on my previous knowledge of what
it was like. In this case, I would also be claiming that
this previous knowledge was first-hand knowledge of
the high school, of the sort one would have from attending it. Suppose that I now go on to "cash in" this
claim to the effect that I could do certain things. I
now say "I remember the old gate in front of the entrance." Here, I am "cashing in" my claim to the effect
that I remember my high school by showing that I
remember certain things about it-for one, that there
was an old gate at the entrance. But if the original
question had been "Do you remember the old gate?"
instead of "Do you remember your high school?" the
statement "Yes, I remember the gate" would be dispositional, and this dispositional claim could itself be
cashed in in terms of descriptions of the gate. It
would seem that, ultimately, dispositional memory
statements get "cashed in" in terms of "that" statements, or, in cases like remembering songs, performances. I think that we will not find examples of "remember that" statements which cash out into
memory statements to the effect that one remembers a
person or object or event or some such palpable entity, as opposed to remembering that such and such.
If the move from dispositional to non-dispositional
statements is from claims to remember people or
events or things to claims to remember that such and
such is the case, and if memory claims about me are
only about me in the sense of saying what I could do,

Non-Episodic Memory

71

and such claims about what I could do cash out into


"remember that such and such" statements (and these
are not claims about me, but about such and such, see
p. 64 above), then when we ask "Could there be
memory claims as claims about me, if there were no
memory claims about something else and not me?"
we are asking "Could there be dispositional memory
claims if t:bere were no non-dispo!'jtional memory
claims?" and this in turn becomes "Could there be
memory of people, events, and things if there were no
memory of facts, that is, memory statements of the
form 'remember that such and such is the case'?"
I think that the answer to each of these questions is
No. If my account of memory of people, things, i.e.,
statements of the form, "I remember him," "I remember seeing him," "I remember that song," is correct, if
these statements are claims to the effect that I could
do certain things on the basis of previous knowledge
(in some cases acquired in an authority-giving way),
then of course there could be no such dispositional
statements if there were no exercise of the disposition. At least, one cannot understand what it is to be
able to do x unless he knows what it is to do x. And
where the disposition is not cashed in in terms of performances (as in the case of remembering how a
song goes), it is cashed in in terms of "remember
that" statements (of course, if it is cashed in at
all). In this sense, then, "remember that" statements
are more basic than "remember him," "remember it,"
and so forth. 8 And I put this in terms of "remember
that" statements instead of "remembering that," beR See the chapter "Three Forms of Memory" in Norman Malcolm's Knowledge and Certainty (Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1963) for other arguments for the logical priority
of "remember that" statements or "factual memory."

72

The Concept of Memory

cause to put it in the latter way might be to suggest


that when someone does claim to remember that, he
is reporting the occurrence of something. And this,
we have seen, is not the case. But let me state my
position once more.
Suppose someone were to object to my handling of
the problem as follows: "We wanted to know whether
there could be dispositional remembering ( remembering him, remembering seeing, remembering the
old school) without non-dispositional remembering
(remembering that such and such), not just whether
there could be dispositional memory claims without
non-dispositional memory claims." I think that to put
the question in this way is to completely misunderstand the nature of such statements as "I remember
that the bars on the old gate were rusty." To make the
above objection is to suppose that such a memory
statement is some sort of report, a report of the occurrence of the phenomenon of remembering. But, as
has been argued, th'ere is no such occurrence or phenomenon as "remembering that the bars on the old
gate were rusty" being reported in the statement "I
remember that the bars on the old gate were rusty."
For this statement is simply a claim to the effect that
the bars were rusty, plus a claim to the effect that I
now know this because I previously knew it (and perhaps also that I knew it from having seen the old
gate), and these things are not occurrences. And if
there is no occurrence or mental phenomenon "underlying" the non-dispositional memory claim, such that
the memory claim reports or is an expression of it,
then we cannot ask whether this phenomenon could
or could not exist if there were no memory claim.
It is quite likely that at this point there is still a
growing feeling of dissatisfaction at the way the

Non-Episodic Memory

73

whole discussion has gone. For not only has an attempt been made to show that memory is not a process or occurrence or experience, but a further supposition has been slipped in, namely, that to remember
is either to be able to or actually to make memory
claims. This would seem to indicate that, for example, only individuals with a language could ever be
spoken of as remembering anything or as having a
memory. But surely animals can remember such
things as people or places.
It is indeed quite true that, for example, dogs can
be spoken of as remembering their masters, say, after
a long absence. And we may say that our dog Rennie
remembers our friend Dave but not that Dave has
brown hair, is about six feet tall, and so on. And this
would seem to show that not only can there be memory without language but that there can be memory of
a person or object without remembering that.
It has to be admitted that the example of the dog
shows both these things. But what also has to be
noted is that it is quite a different matter for a person
to remember someone and for a dog to remember
someone. It is not enough for a person to show recognition to say that he remembers someone. But it is
enough (what else could there be?) for the dog. Suppose we know that our dog has never met Mr. Smith,
but, upon seeing him, he gets excited, as though he
knew him. We might want to suggest that the dog
mistakenly thinks he knows Smith (a bit bizarre) or
that the dog thinks that Smith is someone else (better) or that. there is something about Smith that he
likes (most reasonable). But if the dog has seen
Smith before and gets excited when he sees him again
(more than he usually does when he sees people),
there is no question but that the dog remembers him.

74

The Concept of Memory

Yet surely a person who is struck by someone, who


lights up (as) with recognition, may indeed not remember this other person at all. And by this we mean
that he cannot say anything about who this person
who caused this reaction in him is, except that he has
seen him before. 9
There are other differences between what we are at
tributing when we attribute memory to a dog and to a
person (who speaks a language). One such difference
is brought out by comparing the remarks ''I'm sure he
remembers you" and ''I'm sure he will remember you"
as said of an animal and of a person. If I am on the
way to the kennel to pick up my dog who has been
there for, say, several months, I may wonder whether
he will remember me-not whether he does, but
whether he will. In another case, my wife might write
to me and say "The dog remembers you-he waits for
you to come home every night." We only say that a
dog remembers smpeone if he has already shown that
he remembers the person in question. That is why we
say, if he has not shown that he remembers (which is
not to say that he has shown that he does not remember), that he will remember me when he sees me.
This means that he will recognize me.
On the other hand, the natural question to ask
upon visiting a person one has not seen for a long
while is "I wonder if he remembers me." To ask, in
the case of a person, "I wonder if he will remember
me" is to suggest that he does not and to be wondering
if his seeing you will make him remember.
Why would we not say of a dog, who in his mas9 A person can recognize someone or something that he has
never seen before. One can, for example, recognize someone
from a description or recognize him by the carnation he is
wearing.

Non-Episodic Memory

75

ter's absence shows no sign of remembering him, that


he remembers him, whereas we might very well say
of a person who has not seen someone and also has
not ever mentioned him, that he remembers him? I
think that the answer is that in the case of the person,
to say he remembers someone is to say he could do
certain things, namely describe the person, say when
he knew him and in what situation, and so forth. But
what is it to say that a dog "could" do those things
which would show that he remembers? There is no
question of a dog's being able to sit at the window and
whine for his master, yet this is the sort of thing
which would incline one to say that he remembers
him. To say that the dog remembers his master in the
absence of any such behavior would be like saying
that he could do those things which show a dog remembers; but we do not speak of animals as being
able to whine for their masters, as opposed to actually doing it, in the sense of "able" in which a person could be able to correctly describe the circumstances in which he met someone, yet not actually do
it or have done it.
It seems to me that several points have emerged
from comparing animals with people apropos of remembering someone. First of all, to say that a person
remembers someone is to say quite a bit more than to
say that an animal remembers someone. In the case
of the animal, there does not seem to be much difference between remember and recognize, and where
there is, we only say that the dog remembers when he
actually shows signs of remembering. Hence the locution "I wonder if he will remember me." In shm;,t; ~'re
member" is used in a secondary or less riylt'1e}?.se
when applied to animals. For it does seen(-thaf we
can apply "remember" in the absence of<Signs -of rec: ~ i..

-.::..

The Concept of Memory

ognition or "miss it" behavior only in the case of a


being who can be spoken of as being able to show he
remembers. But we only speak of someone with a language as being able to show that he remembers; that
is, someone may or may not be able to say how and
when he met the person in question. A person is neither able nor unable, in a parallel sense, to miss
someone or to become excited when he sees him-he
simply does or does not. The third person use of remember, as already suggested (p. 66 above), indicates either that the person could do certain things or
that he has. In the case of an animal, it only means
the latter, because the things which an animal does to
show it remembers are not the sort of things which
we speak of his being able to do when he is not doing
them. Thus, "remember" is applied in a derivative
sense to non-speakers.
So it turns out that animals do not furnish us with
a counterexample to the claim that "remember that"
statements are ~asic to "remembering him" or "remembering it" or "remembering doing" statements.
For although animals can remember people but not
"that Jones was the person who such and such," "remember" is used in a derivative sense here, and in
fact, derivative just because animals cannot do the
sorts of things which people can (sometimes) do,
namely tell about. This is why we can say that a person remembers someone when he has not shown that
he does, but not so with an animal (for here we say "I
am sure he will remember you," not "I am sure he
remembers you").
But we are far from having shown that memory is
in no sense a mental activity or occurrence, or that
memory statements are never reports of such "memory experiences." As a matter of fact, the whole of

Non-Episodic Memory

77

Chapter III was devoted to the discussion of the phenomenon of suddenly remembering. And what about
reminiscing? For here we have a memory verb which
does take the present continuous. Reminiscing is
surely something one can be "doing."
There is, then, work left to be done if we are to
show that memory is "essentially" non-episodic.

chapter

I think that any analysis of memory is very likely to go


wrong if it attempts to construe memory statements
generally as statements about the present "state" of
the person who makes them, that is, if we think of
them as a particular kind of report instead of a particular kind of claim; or, alternatively, if we think of
memory statements as generally being claims about
the person who makes the claim, rather than about
something else; or, once again, if we think of memory
statements as essentially reports that the "claimer" is
remembering, rather than claims that such and such
(which he previously knew) is the case. Now, of
course, memory statements are sometimes essentially
claims about the claimer, rather than about what he
claims to remember. But sometimes not. And I would
like to argue that there could be no memory statement
as a claim about the claimer unless there were memory claims about something else. That is, there could

i
'

IV Non-Episodic
Memory

'

s6

57

Non-Episodic Memory

be no memory statements as first person "reports" of


remembering unless there were memory statements
which were claims about something else. (I would include under the latter memory statements about what
I did or what happened to me. This will be made clear
as we proceed.) And, in fact, I want to argue that
whenever one makes a memory statement which
could be construed as a report of the "activity" of remembering, the analysis of such a statement contains
reference to memory statements as statements essentially about something other than "what is 'going on
in' the claimer." And, indeed, we have to get clear on
just what someone is doing when he makes various
memory claims before we can see what the relationship ( s) is (are) between memory and various mental
occurrences or processes.

I
There are several considerations which might make
one think of memory statements as some sort of report, more specifically, a report about the person who
makes it to the effect that he remembers something,
that he houses the phenomenon or experience of "remembering." Several examples which make it look as
though memory statements are such reports are:
(I )-I am sure that if he had been there, I would remember it.
( 2 )-Yes, I do remember him.
(3)-Well, I seemed to remember him saying that
(said after I am convinced that he did not say
it).

How do such statements tend to make us think of


all memory statements as some sort of report about

ss

The Concept of Memory

the person who makes them, to the effect that he is


doing something which could be called remembering,
,, or has something which could be called a memory experience? Example (I ) above is the most tempting
one. The suggestion here is that there is something
missing in me which would be present had I seen him,
namely a memory experience. And it then looks as if,
if I did remember seeing him and claimed that I did
remember seeing him, I would be reporting the
presence of this memory experience. Thus, in example ( 2), I am reporting the existence in me of a memory experience, or at least claiming that I could do
something which could be called remembering him or
could have something present to my mind which
could be called an "active" memory of him, so that
when I later do go on to talk about him from memory,
I am reporting the occurrence (existence) of remembering (a memory experience). And example ( 3)
above might be taken as a claim to the effect that I
had an experience like a memory experience, except
that I now realize that it was not memory, since I
"remembered falsely." But as an experience, it was
just like the times when I do remember.
From a cursory look at these three examples, then,
we come to picture memory statements as reports.
And when we come to such statements as "I remember that he was rather flushed when he came in," we
tend to think of this, at least partially, as a report or
claim not about the condition of the person when he
came in but rather about me, to the effect that I am
doing something (remembering) or having something (a memory experience).
It is extremely fashionable to make a distinction
between two uses of certain psychological terms,
which we may call for sake of discussion the "disposi-

r'

:1,:

Non-Episodic Memory

59

tional" and the "occurrence" or "goings-on" use. Thus,


philosophers might want to distinguish such occurrences of remember as "Yes, I remember him" or "I
am sure he remembers what happened" from such
uses as "I remember that he was very pudgy" or "I
remember that I hit the doorpost," where the first two
statements are not claims about what the person who
remembers is doing, but what he could do. Thus, the
former use of "remember" states that the person
could do something, namely remember in the second
use or sense. Now, I have no objection to this distinction per se. I think that many confusions have been
avoided by making such a point. But I think that the
distinction which is crudely outlined here does only
part of the job. It does not give us an analysis of the
statements which are presumably connected with the
exercise of the disposition. That is, when it is pointed
out that a certain use of "remember" only implies that
the person could do something, this does not yet tell
us what he is doing when he does it. Thus, one could
admit that when one says "Yes, I do remember him,"
he is only claiming that he could do certain things, for
example, describe him from memory, yet still claim
that when he makes these memory claims (I remember that he was quite tall, and that he was always
. . . ) he is reporting something about himself,
namely, that he remembers, or has certain presently
"activated" memories, or "memory experiences."
I think that it is not hard to show that such a view
of the nature of the non-dispositional memory claim
is untenable as a general thesis. Perhaps we can focus
on what has gone wrong by considering non-memory
examples. If someone asks me what I am thinking
about and I say "The party last night," this is a statement about me, not about the party. And if I go on to

.:

r I
6o

The Concept of Memory

describe what I was thinking about in detail, under the


heading of what I was thinking about, I am still talking about myself, "reporting." Now, of course, I can
just think about the party, or I can tell what I was
thinking, or I can simply describe the party. And it
may tum out that in telling what I was thinking
about, I give a description of the party, and it may
tum out that in giving a description of the party, I am
also telling what I am thinking about. Both cases tum
on whether or not I happen to be thinking of the party
when I am asked either to describe the party or say
what I am thinking. So it surely would not tum out
that every time I describe a party, I am also therein
giving a report of what I am thinking about. Suppose
now that someone asks me to describe the party and I
begin: "It was very noisy, and everyone was. . . ."
Suppose that I stop now and then, in describing the
party, to think about it. Does it follow that my description of the party is now a report about me, about
what I am thinking? Is my description to be construed not as a description of the party but rather a
report of what thoughts I have? I think that the answer here has to be no. If I have to stop to think in
order to describe the party, that does not make the
description "really" a report of what I am thinking
about. Reporting what I am thinking and reporting
what the party was like are two different things, two
different human activities, and it would be absurd to
think of one as just a species of the other. Of course,
someone might make certain inferences about me or
about what I think or am thinking from what I say
about the party, but that does not make my description
or report of the party a description of or report about
me, or even a description of or report about me as
well. "If he had done what you claim, then in de-

Non-Episodic Memory

61

scribing the party, I would have thought of it." But


this does not show that when I report on or describe
the party, I am reporting the occurrence of thoughts
and/or describing these thoughts. Of course, someone
might ask me to describe the party, not because he
wants to know about the party but because he is interested in how or what I think of it, or even what is
going on in me by way of thoughts, feelings, etc. But
this does not make my description of the party a report of how or what I think of it, or what is going on
in me by way of thoughts, feelings, etc. Nor is my
report of the party "partially" a report about these
things or "partially" about me.
How do these points apply to memory statements?
I think that the same sort of feeling which might
make someone want to say that when someone is describing a party, what he is rea.Jty doing is reporting
thoughts he is having about the party, may also make
someone want to say that whenever someone describes the party from memory or makes a memory
statement about the party (I remember that . . . ) he
is reporting the occurrence of the phenomenon of remembering. And I think that what is behind both
these positions is a certain view of language, the view
that language "expresses" or "reports" or "describes"
my present thoughts, feelings, experiences, "ideas."
Now, indeed, one does do these things "with" a language. But it is the peculiarity of this view that it
turns out that this is the only thing for which language can be used. And when one has this view, it is
easy to see how paradigmatic are such statements as
"I believe you are right," "I think it goes like this," "I
remember him well." Of course, one might begin to
object to this view by pointing out that "I believe you
are right" is just another way of saying "You are

II
/..

\,;
!'

.,,

6o

II'

The Concept of Memory

describe what I was thinking about in detail, under the


heading of what I was thinking about, I am still talking about myself, "reporting." Now, of course, I can
just think about the party, or I can tell what I was
thinking, or I can simply describe the party. And it
may turn out that in telling what I was thinking
about, I give a description of the party, and it may
turn out that in giving a description of the party, I am
also telling what I am thinking about. Both cases turn
on whether or not I happen to be thinking of the party
when I am asked either to describe the party or say
what I am thinking. So it surely would not turn out
that every time I describe a party, I am also therein
giving a report of what I am thinking about. Suppose
now that someone asks me to describe the party and I
begin: "It was very noisy, and everyone was . . . ."
Suppose that I stop now and then, in describing the
party, to think about it. Does it follow that my description of the party is now a report about me, about
what I am thinking? Is my description to be construed not as a description of the party but rather a
report of what thoughts I have? I think that the answer here has to be no. If I have to stop to think in
order to describe the party, that does not make the
description "really" a report of what I am thinking
about. Reporting what I am thinking and reporting
what the party was like are two different things, two
different human activities, and it would be absurd to
think of one as just a species of the other. Of course,
someone might make certain inferences about me or
about what I think or am thinking from what I say
about the party, but that does not make my description
or report of the party a description of or report about
me, or even a description of or report about me as
well. "If he had done what you claim, then in de-

Non-Episodic Memory

61

scribing the party, I would have thought of it." But


this does not show that when I report on or describe
the party, I am reporting the occurrence of thoughts
and/or describing these thoughts. Of course, someone.
might ask me to describe the party, not because he
wants to know about the party but because he is interested in how or what I think of it, or even what is
going on in me by way of thoughts, feelings, etc. But
this does not make my description of the party a report of how or what I think of it, or what is going on
in me by way of thoughts, feelings, etc. Nor is my
report of the party "partially" a report about these
things or "partially" about me.
How do these points apply to memory statements?
I think that the same sort of feeling which might
make someone want to say that when someone is describing a party, what he is real}y doing is reporting
thoughts he is having about the party, may also make
someone want to say that whenever someone describes the party from memory or makes a memory
statement about the party (I remember that . . . ) he
is reporting the occurrence of the phenomenon of remembering. And I think that what is behind both
these positions is a certain view of language, the view
that language "expresses" or "reports" or "describes"
my present thoughts, feelings, experiences, "ideas."
Now, indeed, one does do these things "with" a language. But it is the peculiarity of this view that it
turns out that this is the only thing for which language can be used. And when one has this view, it is
easy to see how paradigmatic are such statements as
"I believe you are right," "I think it goes like this," "I
remember him well." Of course, one might begin to
object to this view by pointing out that "I believe you
are right" is just another way of saying "You are

The Concept of Memory

right." (Similar things could be said for the other examples). But the argument can just as easily be run
the other way. One might take this equivalence of expressions as showing that statements like "You are
right" are really reports to the effect that I am of the
belief that you are right and hence are not claims
about you but about me.
I do not wish to bring the question to a discussion
of the nature or uses of language. I merely wish to
indicate what I feel to be at the base of the feeling
that memory statements are a kind of report about the
person who is making them, to the effect that he is
doing or experiencing something which might be
called remembering. There are really two views involved, then. One view is that a memory claim is
really a report about the person making the claim;
and this view is coupled with the view that what one
is reporting when one claims to remember something
is the "memory experience."
This whole view,'made up of the two parts mentioned above, is particularly tempting with memory as
its target. It is tempting because it is easy to think of
memory as an experience or phenomenon or occurrence, and hence to think of memory statements as
reporting such an experience or occurrence. If we
could separate the memory claim from any kind of
experience, if we could show that indeed a memory
claim is "about" something other than the present
state of the person making it, then the need to look
for the "experience" or "phenomenon" or "occurrence"
(including memory images) would become less compelling. What is needed, then, is a positive account of
memory statements, and hopefully an account which
is complete without recourse to "experiences" and

Non-Episodic Memory

"occurrences." And one way to get such an account


would be to show that memory claims are not about
the person making the claim. It is to this project that
we now turn.
It may help to get a better insight into the nature of
a whole class of memory statements to compare them
with other sorts of statements. 1 Consider estimating.
Someone might ask me if I can give him an estimate
of how many people were invited to a certain party, or
he might ask me if I know how many people were
invited to a certain party. or he can ask me if I remember how many people were invited to a certain
party. Usually, if someone asks "Could you give me
an estimate?" or "Do you know how many?" or "Do
you remember how many?" he does not expect "Yes"
or "No" for an answer. Of course, he might. And we
might say that if this is the sort of question he is asking. then he is asking if I could do something. namely
tell him how many, or approximately how many, people were invited to the party. Now. my knowledge of
how many people were invited could come from various "sources," or I could give various "grounds" for
my claim about how many people were invited. In this
case, my claim would be based on an estimate (which
in turn could be based on a number of things). In
another case it might be based on an invitation list
which I saw or drew up previously. or it could be
based on a list which I have in front of me. If I claim
to remember that fifty-eight people were invited, I am
not only claiming that fifty-eight people were invited,
1 See B. S. Benjamin, "Remembering," Mind, LXV (July,
19.)6), .324, for a similar approaeb to analyzing "remember"
statements. I do think, however, that where our discussions do
nm parallel, my analysis is sufficiently different from his to warrant its statement.

The Concept of Memory

but that this claim has a certain sort of basis. If, for
example, I were basing this claim on a calculation
which I just made on the basis of how many people
were invited to previous parties of this sort, I could
not say that I remember, but rather, that I would
guess, or estimate, that . . . . Of course, a claim that
my claim is based on certain factors, such as a previous knowledge of how many people were on the list,
or a claim that I came by this information in one of a
number of ways, rather than one of a number of
others, might be construed as a claim about me. But it
is not a claim about me now, about my present
thoughts, experiences, mental activities, etc. Thus, if
I claim to remember seeing Jones spill the drink, I
am, I would say, claiming two things. First, I am
claiming that Jones did spill the drink, and secondly,
I am claiming that I came by that information by having witnessed it. If we want to now say that, after all,
this is partially a claim about me, namely, that I witnessed his spilling"the drink, fair enough. But it is not
a claim about my present state. It is not a report that I
am doing something now, namely remembering
something, as we might have reports from people to
the effect that they are presently reminiscing. But
then, we do not even have a locution of the form "I
am remembering . . . ," a form in which we would
expect such a report to be phrased, if there were such
a thing.
There is, then, a large class of first person memory
statements which are dispositional in character.
When a person makes such a claim, he is claiming
that he -is in a position to make other memory claims
which are not dispositional. And when he makes
these, he is claiming that something is the case and

Non-Episodic Memory

f
I

that he knows that it is the case on a special sort of


authority, namely, previous knowledge, which in
some cases he claims to have acquired in a way which
itself gives him special authority (as in "I remember
seeing it"). (Third person memory statements will be
given a similar account.) Thus, "I remember the
party" is dispositional, in the sense that I am claiming
to know of the party, perhaps from having been there,
and to be able to describe it in more or less detail
from this previous knowledge; and, in some contexts,
I am claiming to be able to describe it from having witnessed it, which gives my description special authority. Then, when and if I do make claims about the
party under the heading of memory claims, 2 such as
"It was very noisy, and everyone was . . . ," I am
now claiming that that was how the party was and
that I know how it was from previous knowledge
(frequently, I am claiming to know these things from
having been there). Sometimes, then, remembering
means being able to make such claims, and sometimes it just means making them. If this seems
strange, then perhaps we should say that memory
claims are of two different general sorts, and that "remembering" is a bogus phenomenon. And this should
not be surprising, for there is no such use of the term
"remembering" as "I am remembering." People do remember things, but that is just to say that they can
and do make memory claims. And what makes it a
memory claim is that the person is claiming special
authority for the claim, not that he is doing something
special. (And people, when they claim that they could
make these claims, or when they are actually making
2 I mean by this only that every statement need nqt be prefixed by "I remember."

66

The Concept of Memory

them, may or may not be having mental imagery. But


so, too, they may or may not be having imagery when
they make any claim. See Chapter VIII.)
Third person memory statements are generally of
the dispositional sort, but not always. "He remembers
such and such" is sometimes the claim that he could
make sincere authoritative statements 3 about such
and such or to the effect that such and such. Sometimes such a locution is an exclamation to the effect
that he has made such claims and that they were correct. Thus, when the lover has described the first
meeting, this might be greeted with the exclamation,
"You remember!" or "He remembers!"
"Remembering" might be considered a generic
term for what happens when someone makes a memory claim, but what happens when someone makes a
memory claim is that he makes a memory claim. And
that has no aura of mystery about it. We see people
making, and we ourselves make, claims all the time.
Sometimes we claim, for these claims, a certain basis.
And sometimes the ~asis which we claim for these
claims is our having previously known or witnessed
something. "I remember," then, might be considered
to be a claim about a claim, just as "I would guess
that" or "It seems to me that" or "I predict that" are in
a way claims about claims, to the effect that they are
only guesses, or that they are predictions, and hence
based on evidence, etc. Of course, not all predictions
begin "I predict"; but to understand that it is a prediction is to understand what sort of authority, or lack of
it, is being claimed for the claim. There is, then, a use
of remember in which I am claiming to be able to do
something, and a use of remember in which I am
doing it. But when I am doing it, I am not "remembers Such authority coming from previous knowledge.

'

Non-Episodic Memory

ing" (since there is nothing called "remembering"


which is anything I could be doing), but making a
claim of a certain sort. 4
But if remembering is to be understood in terms of
making correct claims, or perhaps the ability to make
them, then what are we to make of such things as
practice in remembering? What is someone doing
wh-"f't'he, for example, takes a course to improve his
memory? Is this to be called learning how to make
claims and how to claim a certain sort of authority for
them? Well, not quite. But neither is it learning to
have a certain experience. If we just add that practice
in memory is the acquiring of the ability to get things
right, then I think we are getting closer to it. Of
course, this does not mean getting it right any old way
but getting it right (simply) on the basis of having
known it before. And I think that if we consider such
things as memory courses or practice in remembering, or any claim to remember, if the person gets it
right, and we rule out such things as his having figured it out or his having just found out, and we know
that he knew it before and he does not claim to be
guessing, 5 then we have enough to say that he actually does remember. I think we can give a similar account of such statements as "I am sure that if he had
4 I do not think that my use of the term "claim" would stand
up under fire. We say "He claims that he was there, and that
he knows about it from having been there" in challenging such
a statement as "I remember being there." To call something a
claim is to bring it under suspicion. But I think my point can
be seen in spite of this choice of terms. I think this is the
best term for the point I am trying to make, and I suspect that
any word would have some connotations that I did not want
to be present. I think this comes closest.
5 Of course, sometimes we might not believe him if he says
he is guessing, particularly if it is unlikely enough that someone
could guess the facts in question.

68

The Concept of Memory

been there, I would remember it." This would mean


not that I would now be having certain experiences,
but that I would be ai:He to say what he did, how he
looked, etc., and perhaps also that I would be able to
visualize things (viz. him) as they were, and feel that
that was how they were. And in cases where I can do
such things and get them right, and my knowledge of
how things were comes from my having been there
and seen him, then I do remember. But here, "remember" means being able to do these things. When I
go on to describe what I claimed to remember, I am
not doing something which can be called "remembering" but rather "cashing in" on my earlier claim.
(Thus, should I have an image which I take to be how
things were, then I could be either thinking about the
party, or about Jones at the party, or trying to remember, or reminiscing [if it happened long enough ago];
but none of these could be described as "remembering
the party" or "relllembering Jones at the party," as
these are not things someone could be doing.)
Our other two cases (p. 57) can likewise be accounted for without recourse to a memory experience.
We have already dealt with example (2) (Yes, I do
remember him) and have concluded that this is a
claim to the effect that I could correctly describe him
and tell about my experiences with him, such ability coming from this previous acquaintance.6 And
finally, when, upon agreeing that a memory claim I
have made is false, I say "Well, I seemed to remema Sometimes "I remember him" might mean only that I know
who it is you are talking about. People sometimes introduce
discussion of a person or thing or event with such a question
as "Do you remember that time we . . . ?" or "Do you remember the woman who used to . . . ?" What is being asked, in
such cases, is whether or not I know to whom or what he is
referring, not whether I could describe whatever it is he asks
about.

6g

Non-Episodic Memory

her," I am not claiming that I did nevertheless have a


"seeming memory" experience; rather, I am asserting
that I was indeed prepared to claim that he did say it,
and that I knew ne said it from having heard him say
it, and perhaps also that I am still half inclined to
stick to this claim, even though I am "mostly" confinced to the contrary. 7

II
The next question I would like to examine is, could
we have such things as "remembering" in the dispositional sense (He remembers it; yes, I remember him;
yes, I remember it) if we did not have non-dispositional memory claims (I remember that such and
such; I remember her expression-she looked like
this)?
Let us begin with another look at the relationship
between dispositional and non-dispositional memory.
The distinction between dispositional uses of remember ("I remember him") and non-dispositional uses of
remember ("I remember that he was very thin, had
bright blue eyes . . .") is not a particularly sharp
7 We are now in a position to show what is odd about such
statements as "I remember that if the doctor had arrived on
time, he would have lived." (Chapter II, p. 37) Counterfactuals are, in a sense, always judgments rather than immediately
verifiable truths. One who states a counterfactual, then, is in a
way offering a kind of judgment or guess or speculation, rather
than, for instance, a report. Inasmuch as stating counterfactuals
is a matter of speculation, and prefacing a statement with "I
remember that . . . " is to claim special authority, the two
illocutionary forces involved are at odds, the one being something like "I speculate that" and the other something like "I
have special authority to claim the truth of the following." This
is not to deny that one can be very confident about what is still
a speculation. Hence, "I am sure that if the doctor had arrived
on time, he would have lived," or even "I know that if the
doctor had arrived on time he would have lived."

70

The Concept of Memory

one. I think that this might be brought out by putting


the distinction in terms of "cashing in" on the dispositional memory claim. Suppose someone asks me if I
remember my high school. If I answer "Yes, I do,"
then I am claiming that I could (correctly) describe
it, and that my ability to describe it, should I do so,
would be "based" on my previous knowledge of what
it was like. In this case, I would also be claiming that
this previous knowledge was first-hand knowledge of
the high school, of the sort one would have from attending it. Suppose that I now go on to "cash in" this
claim to the effect that I could do certain things. I
now say "I remember the old gate in front of the entrance." Here, I am "cashing in" my claim to the effect
that I remember my high school by showing that I
remember certain things about it-for one, that there
was an old gate at the entrance. But if the original
question had been "Do you remember the old gate?"
instead of "Do you remember your high school?" the
statement "Yes, I remember the gate" would be dispositional, and this dispositional claim could itself be
cashed in in terms of descriptions of the gate. It
would seem that, ultimately, dispositional memory
statements get "cashed in" in terms of "that" statements, or, in cases like remembering songs, performances. I think that we will not find examples of "remember that" statements which cash out into
memory statements to the effect that one remembers a
person or object or event or some such palpable entity, as opposed to remembering that such and such.
If the move from dispositional to non-dispositional
statements is from claims to remember people or
events or things to claims to remember that such and
such is the case, and if memory claims about me are
only about me in the sense of saying what I could do,

Non-Episodic Memory

71

and such claims about what I could do cash out into


"remember that such and such" statements (and these
are not claims about me, but about such and such, see
p. 64 above), then when we ask "Could there be
memory claims as claims about me, if there were no
memory claims about something else and not me?"
we are asking "Could there be dispositional memory
claims if t:bere were no non-dispo!'jtional memory
claims?" and this in turn becomes "Could there be
memory of people, events, and things if there were no
memory of facts, that is, memory statements of the
form 'remember that such and such is the case'?"
I think that the answer to each of these questions is
No. If my account of memory of people, things, i.e.,
statements of the form, "I remember him," "I remember seeing him," "I remember that song," is correct, if
these statements are claims to the effect that I could
do certain things on the basis of previous knowledge
(in some cases acquired in an authority-giving way),
then of course there could be no such dispositional
statements if there were no exercise of the disposition. At least, one cannot understand what it is to be
able to do x unless he knows what it is to do x. And
where the disposition is not cashed in in terms of performances (as in the case of remembering how a
song goes), it is cashed in in terms of "remember
that" statements (of course, if it is cashed in at
all). In this sense, then, "remember that" statements
are more basic than "remember him," "remember it,"
and so forth. 8 And I put this in terms of "remember
that" statements instead of "remembering that," beR See the chapter "Three Forms of Memory" in Norman Malcolm's Knowledge and Certainty (Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1963) for other arguments for the logical priority
of "remember that" statements or "factual memory."

72

The Concept of Memory

cause to put it in the latter way might be to suggest


that when someone does claim to remember that, he
is reporting the occurrence of something. And this,
we have seen, is not the case. But let me state my
position once more.
Suppose someone were to object to my handling of
the problem as follows: "We wanted to know whether
there could be dispositional remembering ( remembering him, remembering seeing, remembering the
old school) without non-dispositional remembering
(remembering that such and such), not just whether
there could be dispositional memory claims without
non-dispositional memory claims." I think that to put
the question in this way is to completely misunderstand the nature of such statements as "I remember
that the bars on the old gate were rusty." To make the
above objection is to suppose that such a memory
statement is some sort of report, a report of the occurrence of the phenomenon of remembering. But, as
has been argued, th'ere is no such occurrence or phenomenon as "remembering that the bars on the old
gate were rusty" being reported in the statement "I
remember that the bars on the old gate were rusty."
For this statement is simply a claim to the effect that
the bars were rusty, plus a claim to the effect that I
now know this because I previously knew it (and perhaps also that I knew it from having seen the old
gate), and these things are not occurrences. And if
there is no occurrence or mental phenomenon "underlying" the non-dispositional memory claim, such that
the memory claim reports or is an expression of it,
then we cannot ask whether this phenomenon could
or could not exist if there were no memory claim.
It is quite likely that at this point there is still a
growing feeling of dissatisfaction at the way the

Non-Episodic Memory

73

whole discussion has gone. For not only has an attempt been made to show that memory is not a process or occurrence or experience, but a further supposition has been slipped in, namely, that to remember
is either to be able to or actually to make memory
claims. This would seem to indicate that, for example, only individuals with a language could ever be
spoken of as remembering anything or as having a
memory. But surely animals can remember such
things as people or places.
It is indeed quite true that, for example, dogs can
be spoken of as remembering their masters, say, after
a long absence. And we may say that our dog Rennie
remembers our friend Dave but not that Dave has
brown hair, is about six feet tall, and so on. And this
would seem to show that not only can there be memory without language but that there can be memory of
a person or object without remembering that.
It has to be admitted that the example of the dog
shows both these things. But what also has to be
noted is that it is quite a different matter for a person
to remember someone and for a dog to remember
someone. It is not enough for a person to show recognition to say that he remembers someone. But it is
enough (what else could there be?) for the dog. Suppose we know that our dog has never met Mr. Smith,
but, upon seeing him, he gets excited, as though he
knew him. We might want to suggest that the dog
mistakenly thinks he knows Smith (a bit bizarre) or
that the dog thinks that Smith is someone else (better) or that. there is something about Smith that he
likes (most reasonable). But if the dog has seen
Smith before and gets excited when he sees him again
(more than he usually does when he sees people),
there is no question but that the dog remembers him.

74

The Concept of Memory

Yet surely a person who is struck by someone, who


lights up (as) with recognition, may indeed not remember this other person at all. And by this we mean
that he cannot say anything about who this person
who caused this reaction in him is, except that he has
seen him before. 9
There are other differences between what we are at
tributing when we attribute memory to a dog and to a
person (who speaks a language). One such difference
is brought out by comparing the remarks ''I'm sure he
remembers you" and ''I'm sure he will remember you"
as said of an animal and of a person. If I am on the
way to the kennel to pick up my dog who has been
there for, say, several months, I may wonder whether
he will remember me-not whether he does, but
whether he will. In another case, my wife might write
to me and say "The dog remembers you-he waits for
you to come home every night." We only say that a
dog remembers smpeone if he has already shown that
he remembers the person in question. That is why we
say, if he has not shown that he remembers (which is
not to say that he has shown that he does not remember), that he will remember me when he sees me.
This means that he will recognize me.
On the other hand, the natural question to ask
upon visiting a person one has not seen for a long
while is "I wonder if he remembers me." To ask, in
the case of a person, "I wonder if he will remember
me" is to suggest that he does not and to be wondering
if his seeing you will make him remember.
Why would we not say of a dog, who in his mas9 A person can recognize someone or something that he has
never seen before. One can, for example, recognize someone
from a description or recognize him by the carnation he is
wearing.

Non-Episodic Memory

75

ter's absence shows no sign of remembering him, that


he remembers him, whereas we might very well say
of a person who has not seen someone and also has
not ever mentioned him, that he remembers him? I
think that the answer is that in the case of the person,
to say he remembers someone is to say he could do
certain things, namely describe the person, say when
he knew him and in what situation, and so forth. But
what is it to say that a dog "could" do those things
which would show that he remembers? There is no
question of a dog's being able to sit at the window and
whine for his master, yet this is the sort of thing
which would incline one to say that he remembers
him. To say that the dog remembers his master in the
absence of any such behavior would be like saying
that he could do those things which show a dog remembers; but we do not speak of animals as being
able to whine for their masters, as opposed to actually doing it, in the sense of "able" in which a person could be able to correctly describe the circumstances in which he met someone, yet not actually do
it or have done it.
It seems to me that several points have emerged
from comparing animals with people apropos of remembering someone. First of all, to say that a person
remembers someone is to say quite a bit more than to
say that an animal remembers someone. In the case
of the animal, there does not seem to be much difference between remember and recognize, and where
there is, we only say that the dog remembers when he
actually shows signs of remembering. Hence the locution "I wonder if he will remember me." In shm;,t; ~'re
member" is used in a secondary or less riylt'1e}?.se
when applied to animals. For it does seen(-thaf we
can apply "remember" in the absence of<Signs -of rec: ~ i..

-.::..

The Concept of Memory

ognition or "miss it" behavior only in the case of a


being who can be spoken of as being able to show he
remembers. But we only speak of someone with a language as being able to show that he remembers; that
is, someone may or may not be able to say how and
when he met the person in question. A person is neither able nor unable, in a parallel sense, to miss
someone or to become excited when he sees him-he
simply does or does not. The third person use of remember, as already suggested (p. 66 above), indicates either that the person could do certain things or
that he has. In the case of an animal, it only means
the latter, because the things which an animal does to
show it remembers are not the sort of things which
we speak of his being able to do when he is not doing
them. Thus, "remember" is applied in a derivative
sense to non-speakers.
So it turns out that animals do not furnish us with
a counterexample to the claim that "remember that"
statements are ~asic to "remembering him" or "remembering it" or "remembering doing" statements.
For although animals can remember people but not
"that Jones was the person who such and such," "remember" is used in a derivative sense here, and in
fact, derivative just because animals cannot do the
sorts of things which people can (sometimes) do,
namely tell about. This is why we can say that a person remembers someone when he has not shown that
he does, but not so with an animal (for here we say "I
am sure he will remember you," not "I am sure he
remembers you").
But we are far from having shown that memory is
in no sense a mental activity or occurrence, or that
memory statements are never reports of such "memory experiences." As a matter of fact, the whole of

Non-Episodic Memory

77

Chapter III was devoted to the discussion of the phenomenon of suddenly remembering. And what about
reminiscing? For here we have a memory verb which
does take the present continuous. Reminiscing is
surely something one can be "doing."
There is, then, work left to be done if we are to
show that memory is "essentially" non-episodic.