Memory and imagery in Russell's The Analysis of Mind

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According to the theory Russell defends in The Analysis of Mind, 'true memories' (roughly, memories that are not remembering-hows) are recollections of past events accompanied by a feeling of familiarity. While memory images play a vital role in this account, Russell does not pay much attention to the fact that imagery plays different roles in different sorts of memory. In most cases that Russell considers, memory is based on an image that serves as a datum (image-based memories), but there are other cases in which memory judgment requires an image without being based on it (answer-memories). A good example for the former is when a person, asked what the colour of the sea was last afternoon, recalls an image and forms a judgment on this basis. In the second case she may recognize the sea and entertain a memory image of it without 'reading off' the memory judgment from this picture. That is, the image does not prompt but itself is part of the propositional content of answer memories. Since in this latter case the feeling of familiarity is constitutive of the recollection but cannot serve as its explanans, answer memories do not conform to Russell's account. According to Lindsay Judson this is not a vice of the theory, since Russell never meant to extend it to answer memories. Despite having a certain appeal of benevolence, Judson's interpretation is not supported by textual evidence. Taking side with David Pears, I will argue that Russell did not properly differentiate between image-based memory and answer memory, and illegitimately extended his theory to the latter.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-206+246
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Answer memory
  • Definite reference
  • Image-based memory
  • Judson
  • Memory
  • Non-conceptual content
  • Pears
  • Russell
  • Simple judgment memory
  • True memory


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