Carlos Montemayor (San Francisco State University)
Transactional collective memory.
04.02.2021, 16:15-17:45 CET (UTC+01:00).
Online Lecture via zoom.
Abstract: In previous work, I argued that the distinction between access and phenomenal consciousness plays a normative role in memory. Memories that are episodically recalled in order to act, decide, and plan are not necessarily phenomenally conscious, and they play a truth-conducive or epistemic role. By contrast, memories that have a rich phenomenal profile on the basis of their experienced vividness and salient value in our personal narrative play a moral and aesthetic role. These two roles are not incompatible and interact in various ways, although they are dissociable. In this talk, I explore this distinction in the counterintuitive context of collective memory. I shall argue that this normative difference is more general than its psychological association with consciousness—it is a feature that depends on meaning-making memories versus mere memory reports. The contribution of this approach is that while the phenomenology of memory is subjectively crucial for the saliency of memories, it is insufficient to explain the general distinction between meaningfully narrative and merely episodic memories. More precisely, while phenomenology provides familiarity with our past, the difference between meaning-making and episodic memories is more general than the familiarity provided by phenomenology, and it requires an independent account. Topics in historiography and legal evidence are explored to assess various options, showing the advantages of a unified transactional approach to individual and collective memories.