Autonoetic consciousness: Reconsidering the role of episodic memory in future-oriented self-projection.

  • Stanley B. Klein
  • Published 2016 in Quarterly journal of experimental psychology

Abstract

Following the seminal work of Ingvar (1985. "Memory for the future": An essay on the temporal organization of conscious awareness. Human Neurobiology, 4, 127-136), Suddendorf (1994. The discovery of the fourth dimension: Mental time travel and human evolution. Master's thesis. University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand), and Tulving (1985. Memory and consciousness. Canadian Psychology/PsychologieCanadienne, 26, 1-12), exploration of the ability to anticipate and prepare for future contingencies that cannot be known with certainty has grown into a thriving research enterprise. A fundamental tenet of this line of inquiry is that future-oriented mental time travel, in most of its presentations, is underwritten by a property or an extension of episodic recollection. However, a careful conceptual analysis of exactly how episodic memory functions in this capacity has yet to be undertaken. In this paper I conduct such an analysis. Based on conceptual, phenomenological, and empirical considerations, I conclude that the autonoetic component of episodic memory, not episodic memory per se, is the causally determinative factor enabling an individual to project him or herself into a personal future.

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