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The Philosophy of Autobiography$
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Christopher Cowley

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226267890

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226268088.001.0001

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Memory, Self-Understanding, and Agency

Memory, Self-Understanding, and Agency

(p.96) 4 Memory, Self-Understanding, and Agency
The Philosophy of Autobiography

Marina Oshana

University of Chicago Press

This chapter discusses the aspects of a person’s identity or “selfhood” that must be available to the person, and the manner in which these must be available, in order for the person to function as a self-governing agent. One functions as a self-governing agent when one anticipates one’s intentions as leading to action by way of self-monitoring behavior. This requires access to the beliefs, values, dispositional traits, memories, and skills that undergird the person’s motivational psychology and that make possible recognition of oneself as a temporally-extended being. This affords a person a psychic connection with his past activity, enabling the person to think of himself, to treat himself, and to be treated by others as a being whose life stretches to the future. Case studies are employed to show that self-governing agency is largely absent in the lives of persons beset by disorders of memory.

Keywords:   memory, self-understanding, agency, self-government, identity, anterograde amnesia

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