Philosophy and Memory Traces: Descartes to Connectionism (Hardback)
  • Philosophy and Memory Traces: Descartes to Connectionism (Hardback)
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Philosophy and Memory Traces: Descartes to Connectionism (Hardback)

(author)
£77.00
Hardback 392 Pages / Published: 05/03/1998
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Philosophy and Memory Traces defends two theories of autobiographical memory. One is a bewildering historical view of memories as dynamic patterns in fleeting animal spirits, nervous fluids which rummaged through the pores of brain and body. The other is new connectionism, in which memories are 'stored' only superpositionally, and reconstructed rather than reproduced. Both models, argues John Sutton, depart from static archival metaphors by employing distributed representation, which brings interference and confusion between memory traces. Both raise urgent issues about control of the personal past, and about relations between self and body. Sutton demonstrates the role of bizarre body fluids in moral physiology, as philosophers from Descartes and Locke to Coleridge struggled to control their own innards and impose cognitive discipline on 'the phantasmal chaos of association'. Going on to defend connectionism against Fodor and critics of passive mental representations, he shows how problems of the self are implicated in cognitive science.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 9780521591942
Number of pages: 392
Weight: 740 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 25 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
'... Sutton takes a wide view of his subject, stressing the effect, through several centuries, of history, society and culture on the theories of memory that he treats.' The Australian Higher Education Supplement
'... provide a fascinating insight into early modern theories of mental and neural activity, and anyone interested in contemporary thinking about mind and memory, or in the history of psychology and philosophy, will find a great deal of value in this engaging and stimulating book.' The Times Literary Supplement
'Philosophy and Memory Traces successfully combines lucidity with elegance of style, historical context with critical assessment. It takes the reader on a guided tour through a sometimes misunderstood segment of the history of memory scholarship, and should benefit researchers from a wide range of areas - early modern philosophy of mind, morality and ethics, psychology, cognitive science, sociology, medical history and anthropology - as well as anyone interested in the ancestral roots of present-day connectionism ... a provocative, highly engaging book.' Philosophy in Review
'This is a remarkable book: elegantly written, impressive with regards to its scholarship and its attention to a wealth of relevant material (historical and contemporary), and exciting innovative in the ideas about memory, as the creative link between self and world.' Australian Journal of Philosophy
"This is a somewhat unusual book. [Sutton's] discussion of historical materials is for the most part judicious and sensitive to context...this book does suggest a range of avenues for further research: the discussion of John Locke's theory of personal identity is especially stimulating." Bull. Hist. Med.

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