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Debus, Dorothea. Mental Time Travel: Remembering the Past, Imagining the Future, and the Particularity of Events
2014, Review of Philosophy and Psychology 5 (3):333-350
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist

Abstract: The present paper offers a philosophical discussion of phenomena which in the empirical literature have recently been subsumed under the concept of ‘mental time travel’. More precisely, the paper considers differences and similarities between two cases of ‘mental time travel’, recollective memories (‘R-memories’) of past events on the one hand, and sensory imaginations (‘S-imaginations’) of future events on the other. It develops and defends the claim that, because a subject who R-remembers a past event is experientially aware of a past particular event, while a subject who S-imagines a future event could not possibly be experientially aware of a future particular event, R-memories of past events and S-imaginations of future events are ultimately mental occurrences of two different kinds.

Comment: This paper is concerned with both metaphysics and cognitive science. It could be used to raise questions about how we imagine future events involving ourselves and other people, and how this is similar or dissimilar to how we remember events. It could be used together with papers in cognitive neuroscience investigating the brain areas active in imagination and memory, most likely in a third or fourth year module.

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