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Point of view in personal memory: a philosophical investigation

posted on 2022-03-29, 01:46 authored by Christopher Jude McCarroll
When remembering events from one's life one often sees the remembered scene as one originally experienced it, from one's original point of view (from a field perspective). Sometimes, however, one sees oneself in the memory, as if one were an observer of the remembered scene (an observer perspective). The main aim of this thesis is to investigate philosophically this puzzling aspect of memory imagery : the phenomenon of point of view in personal (or autobiographical, or episodic) memory. In the first chapter I set out some of the key issues related to a philosophical analysis of point of view in memory. Chapter 2 uses the phenomenon of observer perspectives as a departure point for developing two frameworks for thinking about reconstructive memory: the Constructive framework and the Reconstructive framework. I argue that memory can be (re)constructive, dynamic, and flexible, but also accurate and faithful to the past. I defend observer perspective memories from two related objections by drawing on the insights of the frameworks I outline. In chapter 3 I develop the more novel Constructive framework with reference to the spatial perspectival characteristics of observer perspectives. I do so by engaging with the complex literature on spatial cognition. The main focus of chapter 4 is the relation between observer perspectives and first-personal (de se) thought. This chapter looks in detail at the nature of de se thoughts, the nature of self-representation in memory, and the notion of immunity to error through misidentification. Chapter 5 considers an important claim that ‘objective’ imagination (seeing oneself from-the-outside) is just a special case of ‘subjective’ imagination (from-the-inside). In this chapter I critically examine this idea. I offer an alternative account of seeing oneself from-the-outside in memory and imagination. Chapter 6 looks at two influential but radically distinct accounts of the nature of personal identity. Both accounts recognise the importance of episodic memory to conceptions of personal identity, but they use memory in fundamentally distinct ways. In addition, both accounts neglect observer perspectives in episodic memory. In this chapter I explore the implications that the acknowledgment and inclusion of observer perspectives would have for both accounts.


Table of Contents

1. Remembering from-the-outside -- 2. Constructing and reconstructing observer perspectives -- 3. The Constructive framework : multiplicity and multimodality -- 4. Memory, imagination, and de se thought -- 5. Imagery, point of view, and the plurality of perspectives -- 6. Looking at the self : personal identity and the observer perspective -- 7. Conclusion.


Bibliography: pages 197-219 Theoretical thesis.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Cognitive Science

Department, Centre or School

Department of Cognitive Science

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

John Sutton


Copyright Christopher Jude McCarroll 2015. Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource (xiii, 219 pages)

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