Plato vs. Augustine on Memory BY srsgl 23 Assignment: Plato and Augustine use memory in ways that are comparable and incomparable. What is the role or function of memory in their respective psychological writings? What are their differences? If they disagree, indicate how they would criticize each other’s work. Augustine begins describing memory as that of a house. He describes it as being a place where images, ideas and memories are kept. They can be accesses and stored, re-used and deposited as needed. Our memories can never be taken away from us, as they exist in all things in the past and present.
Augustine believed that memories have always been in his mind, even before he could recognize them as his own. Augustine states in Book X, chapter 10, “It must have been the they were already in my memory, hidden away in its deeper recesses, in so remote a part of it that I might not have been able to think of them at all, if some other person had not brought them to the fore by teaching me about them” (Augustine, 1992). Memories that are neglected slip back to distant parts of the mind, and then begin to evolve in order to be created into new memories. Augustine focuses on the ability to search for God in his memory.
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Augustine finds trouble while attempting this search, and suggests that God may in fact be outside of memory. Augustine realizes that God in fact, cannot be found through the powers of memory. However he feels consequences for not being able to find God. He describes the difficultly that he has with searching for memory by saying in Book X, chapter 17, “How, then, am I to find you, if I have no memory of you? ” A question that Augustine brings up, which many religious believers must question as well, “How can we know God, if we don’t know what he looks like? (Augustine, 1992). Augustine continues to suggest that even we feel that omething is missing from our memory; there is no reason that we should stop looking for it. Augustine believes that happiness and the knowledge of God could be found in the unknown and mysterious parts of our memory. Augustine uses the idea that we know what it means to be happy, since we have a memory of feeling such in the past. He equates this to the understanding that, at some point in our life we must have held the knowledge of God – so we could therefore, reconnect with it in our memories.
Augustine uses his memories as he reflects on his childhood, and uses his wrong doings as a form of confession. Augustine describes memories as being able to be tasted, smelled, heard and felt. Everything that we create an image out of becomes a memory. Memories have the opportunity to be experienced Just as the senses allow them to be experienced. Augustine writes that memories exist at all times, and can be summoned at will. Some memories may be hidden and take longer time to appear; however they are always with us.
Augustine also reflects that is he unable to find God by using his senses, and that in order to find him – he must look within. He is then perplexed at realizing the vast number of sensory memories that ne person must nolo wltnln one’s mina . Wltn tnls reallzatlon nls Deller In strengthens, as he see how complex human beings are and the true inability to fully understand oneself. Augustine then compares skill-memories versus sensory- memories. He recognizes that there is no visual component to skill-memories as these are stored in the memory as the remembrance of performing something and not that of visually seeing something.
In the category of emotional memories, Augustine is in awe of the fact that emotions can be remembered without actually re- experiencing them – or the fact that we are able to recognize a feeling again, due to he fact that it is somehow stored in our memory. Plato’s views of memory differ than Augustine. Plato believes that knowledge is recollection of another plane of reality, owing to the imagistic nature of the physical world (Katz, n. d. ). According to Plato, true knowledge is made up of remembering.
As a person continues to grow, they collect knowledge from their soul. Bruce (2008) states that: “All learning Plato maintains, is but recollection, of what our soul already knows. In the dialogue Meno, Plato agrees that enquiry is impossible, because, unless we already knew something, we would not recognize, the subject about which we ere inquiring. But adds, that enquiry is worthwhile, in that it can uncover our innate memory. ” Plato states that the soul isn’t able to learn anything that is true; it merely remembers things from the time it is born.
This thought was in fact taken up by Neo- Platonists, whose style of thinking served as a starting point for Augustine’s style of thought. Plato’s views of understanding the mental image, is almost that of what many call a photographic memory. Sheffield (2011) also goes on to say that Plato uses the analogy that memory is that of a wax tablet, where in fact our thoughts and ideas are eing stamped into our mind – and held as memories. This theory of a visual memory is clearly an early description of what we think of as the term imagery.
Unlike Augustine, Plato believes that inquiry is not possible. He states that unless we actually know something, we would not recognize it as an experience or memory. Plato sees memory that is earned through powerful and philosophical dialogue, not just rote memorization – that was taught to help remember facts during debates and discussions. He thought that the only actual way to create true memories was through reasoned and critical engagement with a text as a deep reflection on the ivine origins of the soul (Sheffield, 2011).
ReTerences Augustine, S. (1992). Confessions. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Bruce, l. (2008). Plato’s theory of forms. Northwestern University, Retrieved from http:// www. ccs. neu. edu/course/com3118/Plato. html Katz, S. (n. d. ). Memory and mind: an introduction to Augustine. Georgetown, Washington, DC. Munger, M. (2003). The history of psychology: fundamental questions. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Sheffield, R. (2013). Theories of memory. Archival Objects, Retrieved from http:// www. archivalob]ects. com/theories-of-memory. html