PHILOSOPHY AND MEMORY TRACES:
DESCARTES TO CONNECTIONISM
(now in paperback)
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Table of Contents and Text
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This page gives access to my book Philosophy and Memory Traces, now available in paperback.
Here are the book's pages at Amazon.com, at Amazon.co.uk, or at Cambridge UP. It's also in lots of uni libraries.
See the table of contents and sample extract (pages 1-10) on the CUP website. You can access more details of the book below on this page.
Please do email me if you have any responses or criticisms or suggestions.
Philosophy and Memory Traces: Descartes to Connectionism. Cambridge University Press, March 1998. 228 x 152 mm; 372pp; 5 line diagrams, 2 tables
ISBN: 0 521 59194 5.
Philosophy and Memory Traces defends two theories of autobiographical memory. One is a bewildering historical view of memories as dynamic patterns in fleeting animal spirits, nervous
fluids which rummaged through the pores of brain and body. The other is new connectionism, in which memories are ‘stored’ only superpositionally, and are reconstructed rather than
reproduced. Both models depart from static archival metaphors by employing distributed representation, which brings interference and confusion between memory traces. Both raise urgent
issues about control of the personal past, and about relations between self and body.
The book’s historical argument is anchored by a reinterpretation of Descartes’ dynamic physiology of memory and strange philosophy of the body. English critics of Descartes’ view of
memories as motions complained that mechanistic neurophilosophy could not guarantee order in memory, and instead sought techniques for controlling the brain. In a new account of
18th-century philosophers’ fears of confusion in remembering, the author demonstrates the role of bizarre body fluids in moral physiology, as philosophers from Locke to Reid and Coleridge
struggled to control their own innards and impose cognitive discipline on ‘the phantasmal chaos of association’. Finally, in a defence of connectionism against Jerry Fodor and against
phenomenological and Wittgensteinian critics of passive mental representations, the author shows how problems of the self are implicated in contemporary sciences of mind. The book is
an experiment in historical cognitive science, based on a belief that the interdisciplinary study of memory can exemplify the simultaneous attention to brain, body, and culture towards which
psychological sciences must aim.
Reviews (list and selected extracts from reviews of the book, with full versions of many of the reviews).
Philosophy and Memory Traces: Descartes to connectionism
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Frontmatter and Preface
1 Introduction: traces, brains, and history
Appendix: memory and connectionism
Part I Animal spirits and memory traces
Introduction to Part I: Animal Spirits and Memory Traces
2 Wriggle-work: the quick and nimble animal spirits
3 Memory and 'the Cartesian philosophy of the brain'
Appendix 1: nerves, spirits, and traces in Descartes
Appendix 2: Malebranche on memory
Part II Inner discipline
Introduction to Part II: Inner Discipline
4 Spirit sciences, memory motions
5 Cognition, chaos, and control in English responses to Descartes' theory of memory
6 Local and distributed representations
7 John Locke and the neurophilosophy of self
Appendix: memory and self in Essay II.27
8 The puzzle of survival
9 Spirits, body, and self
10 The puzzle of elimination
Part III 'The phantasmal chaos of association'
Introduction to Part III: 'The phantasmal chaos of association'
11 Fodor, connectionism, and cognitive discipline
12 Associationism and neo-associationism
13 Hartley's distributed model of memory
14 Attacks on neurophilosophy: Reid and Coleridge
Part IV Connectionism and the philosophy of memory
Introduction to Part IV: connectionism and the philosophy of memory
15 Representations, realism, and history
16 Attacks on traces
17 Order, confusion, remembering
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Last updated 9 September 2012.
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