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MEMORY AND INTUITION: A FOCAL DEBATE IN FOURTEENTH CENTURY COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY I. SCOTUS ON MEMORY AND INTUITION. John Duns Scotus' discussion in Ordinatio IV, d.45, q.3—edited here with translation and commentary1—is multiply interesting. Not only does it develop a significant fragment of Scotus' cognitive psychology (his theory of memory). It also sheds light on the evolution of the Subtle Doctor's own thinking about intuitive cognition, and constitutes a textual link to ensuing early fourteenth century debates. 1.1. Scotus' Theory of Memory: Memory—recalling the past qua past—is a fact of human experience (nn. 3, 5).2 Scotus' distinctive move is to identify memory (recordatio) properly speaking as an act with a double object. For example, I do not remember your having sat there unless I remember my having seen you sitting there. By contrast, I may know that I was born, but I do not remember it, because I do not remember having witnessed my own birth (n. 4). Thus, the proximate object of memory is a past act of the subject's own (e.g., my past vision), while the remote object is the object of that past act (e.g., your having sat there). Uncontroversial in Scotus' mind are that memory acts are later in time than the acts remembered, and that memory perceives the flow of time between when its object existed and the present (n. 5). Taking vision as his model, Scotus makes the general assumption that the presence of the object to the cognitive power is naturally prior to the act of cognizing that object. He reasons that since the remembered act is not present in itself at the time it is remembered, it must be present in a species—indeed the remembered act must have, at the time of its existence, impressed a species in some speciesconserving power (n. 6). Scotus hesitates over whether memory itself retains the species, and/or cognizes the act-to-be-remem1THe edition is a work of collaboration, while the translation was supplied by Wolter and the commentary by Adams. References are to Scotus, Ordinatio IV, d.45, q.3, edited and translated below. 1 76ALLAN B. WOLTER & MARILYN MCCORD ADAMS bered at the time of its existence. The inference 'Cognitive power C does not perceive act A while A is present; therefore cognitive power C cannot perceive act A as past' is not necessary and so affords no demonstrative proof that memory itself can cognize as past only acts it cognized as extant and present. It could be that perception of the acts as present as well as species-conservation are the work of some other power or powers (n. 7). Humans, of course, have both sensory and intellectual cognitive powers. Scotus thinks the question of whether memory thus characterized is to be found in the senses is underdetermined by reason and experience (nn. 7-12). On the one hand, one could argue [i] that only the intellect can perceive the flux of time, [ii] that it is not generally true that senses perceive sensory acts (which on Scotus' view would be proximate objects of many memories)(n. 7), and [iii] that memory-mimicking behavior among brute animals could have alternative instinctual explanations. On the other, one could contend [contra-i] that magnitude and motion and so time are perceptible to the senses (nn. 8-11), [contra-ii] that higher sensory powers can apprehend acts of lower ones, and [conrra-iii] that it is easier to explain animal behavior if one grants them sensory memory (n. 12). Likewise, various citations from Aristotle seem to have human memory necessarily dependent upon sensory functioning. Scotus seems inclined to the latter, affirmative position (n. 21). Either way, memory properly speaking is to be found in the intellect (n. 17). Certainly, the intellect can perceive the flow of time and conceive of the past qua past. Contrary to the old tag that sensation apprehends only particulars while the intellect grasps only universals, Scotus declares that as a superior power the intellect must know intuitively what sense knows, because it syllogizes not only about and from necessary truths but also contingent ones (n. 17). According to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1945-9718
Print ISSN
0080-5459
Pages
pp. 175-192
Launched on MUSE
2013-07-03
Open Access
No
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