front page  |  about  |  site map














November 25th, 2017
workshop
philosophy of mental time VI:
the experience of time



speakers

Kourken Michaelian
(University of Ontago, New Zealand)
From collective memory to collective mental time travel

Lajos Brons
(Nihon University)
What is it like to remember something? SDAM, aphantasia, and the role of imagery in memory

Ben Springett
(Bristol University, UK)
On the atemporality of some mental phenomena

Giuliano Torrengo
(University of Milan, Italy)
Tensed beliefs and action

Shigeru Kitazawa
(Osaka University)
The science of mental time – achievements during the five years of collaboration


place and time
Nihon University, Sakurajousui campus, Building 3, Room 3409.
November 25th (Saturday), 2017, 13:00 ~ 18:30.




abstracts

Kourken Michaelian
From collective memory to collective mental time travel

The concept of collective memory traces back to Halbwachs (1925) and is now well-established in the interdisciplinary field of memory studies. The concept of mental time travel is more recent (Tulving, 1972) but is now equally well-established in psychological research on episodic memory. Bringing memory studies together with the psychology of episodic memory, Szpunar and Szpunar (2016) have recently proposed the concept of collective future thought, in reference to the future-oriented counterpart of collective memory. If we are entitled to refer both to collective memory and to collective future thought, it would seem that we may be entitled to refer to collective mental time travel. But it is unclear how seriously the concept of collective mental time travel should be taken. The talk will present a critical discussion of the concept, arguing that, while the literature contains several positive assessments (Merck et al., 2016; Michaelian and Sutton, forthcoming), it is likely ultimately to be of limited utility at best.


Lajos Brons
What is it like to remember something? SDAM, aphantasia, and the role of imagery in memory

Episodic memory (EM) involves re-living or re-experiencing past experiences, which suggests that EM depends on mental imagery. Aphantasics lack mental imagery, however, which would imply that they don’t have EM, and people with "severely deficient autobiographical memory" (SDAM) also lack the ability to re-live or re-experience. Both aphantasics and people with SDAM are otherwise normally functioning people, however, and do have personal memories, which is an other defining aspect of EM. By implication, episodic memory is not a natural kind but a loose collection of independent mental faculties. Aphantasics indeed lack episodic memory, because there is no such thing as episodic memory.

This paper is available for download here.


Ben Springett
On the atemporality of some mental phenomena

Most mental phenomena are temporally structured in some way: perception seems to unfold in the present and is about the present; memory seems to be about the past; imagination can be about the past or the future. Most theorists about dreaming would say that dreaming is also temporally structured: dreams occur, like perception, as ongoing experiences, and are recalled as such. In my talk, I argue that, despite common-sense intuition and recollection, dreaming radically departs from any such temporal structure. No doubt, memory imposes a temporal structure on how we recall the previous dream experience. Memory leads us astray, since it is so deeply constructive and frames all experience in terms of past time. We sometimes over ascribe temporality to previous experiences that did not have such a temporal structure. I argue that dreaming involves an especially close relationship with the unconscious, which has been thought of as atemporal (Freud, 1900). I argue against temporal theorists about dreaming and build a new understanding of dreaming as atemporal. In so doing, we end up with a better understanding of dreaming, the unconscious and memory, as well as the dangers of mental time travel. 


Giuliano Torrengo
Tensed beliefs and action

We experience a present that is constantly shifting towards the future and away from the past. This aspect of our experience seems to be connected to the fact that we use tenses and other representational elements to locate objects and events in time. In this talk, I will focus on the interconnection between: the dynamic aspect of our experience, the "tensedness" of our mental attitudes such as beliefs and desires, and the role of both in motivating action. I will argue that our experience of the passage of time has a central role in explaining both the formation of beliefs with tensed contents and their motivational role with respect to action.


Shigeru Kitazawa
The science of mental time – achievements during the five years of collaboration

It is five years since we launched a multi-disciplinary research project "the science of mental time". The project aimed to elucidate how the awareness of time, over the past, present and future, is constructed in our conscious mind and the brain. More specifically, we planned to 1) draw a map of the mental time in the brain, 2) develop methods for manipulating the mental time through studies using lab animals, and initiate clinical applications, and 3) reveal the process of evolution of the mental time. In this talk, I review major achievements of our five-year project in the three domains, and discuss directions for future research inspired by interactions with philosophy of mental time.