·         - Program

·         - Scientific Argument

·         Call for posters (deadline: May, 20 – acceptance notifications will be given as submissions will be received)

·         Venue


Scientific Argument



Philosophy has shown a long-standing interest for the relations that exist between memory and subjectivity. A first major issue has been how the self and memory relate to each other. Starting with Locke’s memory theory of personal identity, philosophy has questioned how our own memories constitute who we are and how we can remain the same across time. This has prompted many crucial correlated questions about memory itself, such as whether it has the potential to secure identity through time, or which specific form(s) of memory could play this role (Locke, 1694; Shoemaker, 1970; Evans, 1982; Gustafsson, 2010). A second issue has concerned, as with Hume’s analyses, the nature of the processes through which we can entertain memories as being about ourselves. In particular, in so-called personal memories, how do we identify as ourselves the past self whose experience we relive? (Fernandez, 2014; Roache, 2015) This leads to a third major philosophical issue, namely the very category of personal memories. It has long been recognized that personal memories play a pivotal role in our sense of subjectivity as well as in our autobiographical knowledge (Bergson, 1896; Russell, 1921; Malcolm, 1963). The overall question is how they should be defined precisely and how they relate to other forms of memory, for instance to collective memory or procedural memory.


A striking feature of the neuropsychology of memory that has developed over the last four decades, is that it has tackled the very same issues (see as some milestone collections of papers: Rubin, 1995; Beike et al., 2004). The tight and intricate relations between the constitution of the identity of the self and its mnemonic abilities have been centre-stage in many studies (Neisser, 1988), as in the narrative developmental approach (Nelson and Fivush, 2004), for instance, not to mention direct psychological discussions of Locke’s theory (Klein and Nichols, 2013). Clearly, the nature of subjectivisation processes has also been a prominent topic. Regarding personal memories in particular, what endows them--psychologists have asked--with this subjective flavour, James’ “warmth and intimacy”, that makes us consider them as parts of our own past experience? From Tulving’s notion of autonoetic consciousness (1985, 2005) to meta-representationalism (Perner, 1991, 2000), psychologists have tackled this mnemonic sense of ownership. Moreover, the category of personal memories is of crucial importance for psychologists. Beyond Tulving’s notion of episodic memory (1983), which remains a major elaboration in this regard, the wider notion of autobiographical memory – such as theorized by Conway (Conway and Pleydell-Pearce, 2000), in particular – has triggered the exploring of the complex architecture of our mnemonic knowledge of ourselves.  Finally, in empirical work, the subjective experience of memory in terms of how we monitor and adapt our retrieval processes has come to the fore, operationalised as metamemory (e.g. Koriat, 2000).


Overall, this rough sketch of the state of the art makes it clear that philosophy and psychology display proximal areas of interest in terms of memory and subjectivity. Surprisingly, though, these areas have tended to manifest mutual ignorance – with some rare exceptions (for instance Hoerl and MacCormack, 1999, 2001, and Klein and Nichols, 2013).  Obviously, interdisciplinary work would be fruitful. Gathering specialists from both fields, the conference aims to bridge this gap. By way of initiating the discussion, here is a proposed (non-exclusive) series of topics that could trigger and map out an interdisciplinary discussion.


             1/ What are the self-attribution processes at work in and/or through memory, be it in episodic or semantic memory? More specifically, how can we account for the phenomenological sense of ownership we have towards our past experiences? Which cognitive abilities – which concept of time, which concept of self – are required for this? What role does emotion or narrative play in this regard? Or further: how can we account for the characteristic first-person perspective of our personal memories? 


             2/ Which types of autobiographical memories should we distinguish, and how should we relate one memory to the others? It is thought that semantic and episodic memories provide autobiographical knowledge, but how does one bear on the other in this respect? More generally, what is the architecture of our autobiographical memory?  How do we incorporate personal beliefs into autobiographical memory and narrative accounts of our personal lives?


             3/ How can we conceive of the relation between memory and personal identity? What role does memory play regarding the fact that we feel, and think of ourselves as extended in time? Does episodic memory provide, through mental time travel abilities, a sense of temporal identity towards the past as well as towards the future? To which extent does it require semantic memory knowledge to carry out this task? And how should we include the social dimension of memory, in its development as well as its ordinary working, as it comes to account for its role in the constitution of the self-identity?


             4/ To what extent do we have privileged access to our memory function, and what are the factors influencing the subjective experience of memory?  How can we be sure that the mental experiences and images that come to mind are in fact the contents of memory?  How does any access we have to our mental operations translate into higher-order beliefs and representations about the memory system, and what role does such an idiosyncratic, subjective system play in the support of memory function?