Start your review of Metaphors of Memory: A History of Ideas about the Mind Write a review Shelves: non-fiction Every invention for keeping records and transmitting information was seen as a new way of illuminating how the memory worked. Wax tablets, books, slates; codes, telegraphs; photography and later holography; telephone networks and digital computers and the internet all took their place as the best way to explain what was happening in the memory. He also discusses palaces of the mind and theatres of memory, which are both mnemonic techniques and metaphors. It made me think about how memory has been Every invention for keeping records and transmitting information was seen as a new way of illuminating how the memory worked. It made me think about how memory has been drawn out from the soul into the physical world. In the beginning, memory was seen as something supernatural, a part of the unphysical mind rather than the physical body.
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Start your review of Metaphors of Memory: A History of Ideas about the Mind Write a review Shelves: non-fiction Every invention for keeping records and transmitting information was seen as a new way of illuminating how the memory worked. Wax tablets, books, slates; codes, telegraphs; photography and later holography; telephone networks and digital computers and the internet all took their place as the best way to explain what was happening in the memory.
He also discusses palaces of the mind and theatres of memory, which are both mnemonic techniques and metaphors. It made me think about how memory has been Every invention for keeping records and transmitting information was seen as a new way of illuminating how the memory worked.
It made me think about how memory has been drawn out from the soul into the physical world. In the beginning, memory was seen as something supernatural, a part of the unphysical mind rather than the physical body. But today most people, even those who hold that there is something super-physical happening in conscious perception, will agree that memories themselves are stored in the connections of the brain, and that it is the re-presentation process itself in which something mysterious happens, rather than the storage process.
This leads to some odd consequences. Imagine if our memories could be copied, erased, and modified as easily as computer "memory. There was a lot of overlap with things I pulled together in Machinamenta. It would have made writing that book easier if I had read this book earlier. I would have liked more of a discussion of the question that my work is focused on at the moment: how are concepts stored in the brain in such a way that they have the properties we know concepts have, such as the ability to be reminded, the ability to shade a concept by another one, the ability to find a concept that partakes of any other two concepts, for things to belong to a concept in a greater and lesser degree, and so forth.
This book is a good reminder of how much conceptual structure had to be built up for such questions to even have plausible answers. I was ok in the kiddie pool of the first few chapters but once we got into holography, interacting light beams, and then neural networks afterwards, I was running to catch up. The basic idea is that memory, and many mental processes, are hard to access and experiment on directly.
Because of that, the use of metaphor to guide thought and research is important, more so than in processes which are more This is a wonderful book which stretched my bruised capacity for attention and understanding. Because of that, the use of metaphor to guide thought and research is important, more so than in processes which are more directly accessible to empirical analysis.
The first chapter is a discussion of what metaphor is, and of the theories and history of thinking about metaphor metametaphorology? I really liked this chapter especially and if I was sharing any part of the book as a kinda movie trailer it would be this because it works almost as a standalone essay. It also goes, with depth and detail, into the varying ways our use of metaphor can help and hinder, and makes a cogent defence or apologia of the necessity of metaphor, and therefore the importance of us trying to understand how we use it and what it does.
Which comes back again in the last chapter. Draaisma has a calm, regular writing style which I enjoy. Which is handy as his paragraphs are fucking HUGE.
One to two hours per chapter, which is a very slow reading time for me. Plus oral cultures tend to not be massively introspective or object-analytical in ways that make it easy to talk about metaphor. BUT - its would be so fucking interesting to hear if there were common elements or interesting stories or anything at all about how oral cultures talked about memory. Many of them were really good at poetics and had powerful and innovative imaginations.
Anyway, there is an end to my own megaparagraph. Megaparagraph is a surprisingly pleasing word to write and speak. Did you know that Robert Hooke had his own theory of memory?
At every age and every advancement in physical knowledge, minds seize on whatever is subtle, sophisticated, novel, complex, whatever forms the bleeding edge of comprehension, and riddle their way through the conception of it like fungus, infesting it and breaking it down into metaphors of memory.
These metaphors are used for analysis, in particular they spread certain ideas in a way academic texts cannot. Many are much more useful for spreading an idea or concept than they are for explicating it once all the details are regarded.
Holography in particular, Draaisma is not too impressed by for its explanatory power, but it sure as hell reached and influenced a lot of people. Nothing was further removed from Romantic views on nature, organism or soul than the image of clockwork, which could be disassembled or replaced part by part at will.
The Romantic metaphors and analogies referred to natural processes, to what grew and slowed without links or interruptions. Carus wrote in his first letter on landscape that even if science has dissected a plant fibre by fibre, cell by cell, that knowledge will still not be sufficient to make a single leaf.
Its in the 19thC that we get some of the first big exciting problems of memory and one of the ways in which it is very unlike a machine, and of course we get it by doing terrible things to animals, specifically slowly slicing up their brains in little pieces so we can see what happens to them. Brains break slowly, unlike machines where one thing splinters or fails and then there is catastrophic loss, brains that suffer damage retain core functions, to lesser and lesser degrees, as more and more damage is done to them.
So you can do utterly terrible things to a dog or a rat and its will keep up its basic movement algorithms almost right to the end. The same is true for us, memory structures can be highly resistant to local damage, especially core functions like moving the body through space and finding things. So in the medieval period everything is basically just the soul and this is a meat puppet its briefly trapped inside.
Then Descartes ruins that idea. It is like a hand closing a fist on a slippery thing, squeezing but the thing keeps shifting and going away and the grip can never be absolutely firm. So we kick into post WWI where people start developing telephone exchanges and the proto-mathematics of electronic computers. Scientific theories were constructed as deductive hierarchies of laws, a reflection of the hierarchical structure of reality.
Even the social structure which Hull imposed on his own research group seemed to be inspired by the representation of a hierarchical machine. If with Tolman a scientific researcher still had the dignity of a cartographer, with Hull he was no more than a cogwheel in the hectic machinery of scientific industry. All praise the Omnisiah. And then of course, finally the Babbage Engine levels up and simply wipes the floor with every other machine on every other level so far as metaphor productions goes.
There is a lot of interesting stuff here about the deep intertwining of ideas, intuitions and metaphors about the mind and the development of computing. They cross-pollinate and reinforce each other continually, like priests of paired gods.
Within the metaphor for man-as-an-information-processing-system there emerged in the s an exchange between the vocabularies for the human memory and that of computers. In a psychological theories they referred to hypothetical processes in memory, and in AI theories to mechanisms and structures for information storage in computers. This shared psychological and technical meaning was acquired in an exchange which in general was balanced: over and against the technical influence of psychology on computer jargon.
The same applies for the distinction of concepts which emerged in the context of AI - such as that between location-addressable and content-addressable - had not occurred previously in psychology. In some cases theoretical terms even went back and forth. Draaisma breaks into one of his rare bursts of poetics in the computer age, describing, better than I could the differences highlighted by the advance of technology; "..
The memory of the computer is too good. Human memory is an instrument which, if the need arises, lies and deceives. It distorts, sifts and deforms, takes better care of some things than others. Whereas circuits in a classical computer are under a central operating system which gives its commands step by step, the human brain seems to be acted upon by scores of impulses at once.
Odours, emotions, movements, sounds, perceptions: the memory as a vibrating network of synchronous associations rather than a linear tract of stimulus-storage-reproduction.
The computer plays its melodies one key at a time, albeit incomprehensibly fast; the human memory strikes whole chords. Also, according to Draaisma, holography is something of the flaky over-rewarded celebrity of memory metaphors, often quoted, rarely drops a good album. This was written in ; "Each element [of the nervous system] - speaking figuratively - may be considered as a minute area intersected by an indefinite number of curves of different directions and orders.
Thus a molecular commotion in any such area may run into the system along any one of the innumerable curves. In every such small fragment "the whole curve slumbers". Who looks at the hologram? And as ever, a more complete metaphor and a finer model only leaves us with those ethereal missing qualities, the things the networks cannot do.
The memory that she gave to you and others is subject to external investigation. The memory that she gave me has a subjective, personal access, a secret door from inside. The price of that privileged access is a stubborn mystery: I do not know how my personal, introspective experience is linked to the observable processes in my brain.
Draaisma - Metaphors of Memory
Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Did you know that Robert Hooke had his own theory of memory? Yet it is elusive and difficult to define, and throughout the ages philosophers and psychologists have used metaphors as a way of understanding it. Read, highlight, and take notes, across web, tablet, and phone.
DRAAISMA METAPHORS OF MEMORY PDF
Engelman, Sigmund Freud. Wien IX. Berggasse 19, Vienna, , p. Reisch, Margarita philosophica, Basle, Brant, Das Narrenschiff, Basle,
Metaphors of Memory: A History of Ideas about the Mind
Zulkidal Lists with This Book. Which comes back again in the last chapter. The way we try to deconstruct the brain is by use of metaphors, whether consciously or not. A mirror with a memory; 6. Also, according to Draaisma, holography is something of the flaky over-rewarded celebrity of memory metaphors, often quoted, rarely drops a good album. George Mandler Limited preview — Freek rated it really liked it Dec 23, Without memory fraaisma lose our sense of identity, reasoning, even our ability to perform simple physical tasks.