Memory: Ethics and Rhythmanalysis

Monte Pemberton (2011). Memory: Ethics and Rhythmanalysis PhD Thesis, School of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Classics, The University of Queensland.

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Author Monte Pemberton
Thesis Title Memory: Ethics and Rhythmanalysis
School, Centre or Institute School of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2011-05
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Prof. Fred D'Agostino
Dr. Aurelia Armstrong
Total pages 197
Total black and white pages 197
Language eng
Subjects 220312 Philosophy of Cognition
220305 Ethical Theory
220319 Social Philosophy
Abstract/Summary While ostensibly a thesis on good remembering, this study combines a methodology for analysing remembering practices, and a commentary on the projected course of memory as a cultural practice. The methodology is inspired by broadly sympathetic accounts of cognition, mind, and memory as systemic: partly, though critically constituted by agents’ environment and their activities within it. This subject of these kinds of approach is variably referred to as ‘collective memory’ or ‘distributed cognition’. The active and environmental factors are called ‘supports’. A consequence of the distributed or collective approach is that as the supports change, then so too do practices of memory. Not only does this warrant a context sensitive approach to the ethics of memory, it is on this basis that the thesis indicates an evolving relationship between agents and practices of memory. One way to practice good remembering is to ensure that one’s memories are truth-apt to the past. An alternative view of good remembering understands remembering as a meaning-making process. Good remembering might be conceived then as a process aimed at integrating agents’ understanding of their past with present conditions for remembering, and with expectations of the future, to encourage a kind of Aristotelian flourishing. But encouraging this flourishing would also seem to require that agents take some responsibility for the supports of memory; either maintaining them when they support good remembering, or ‘fixing’ them when they do not. This study concentrates on this requirement. To this end, a set of guiding themes are suggested for the analysis of remembering practices: object affordance (concerning the mnemonic qualities of the objects a domain’s activities produce); uptake (the way in which a practice spreads through a community); rhythmaticity (the ambiance of a practice and the way it synchronises with other practices); and, coupling (how the memory skills, or memory-for, required for a practice influence the mnemonic value of that practice when it is harnessed for more typically collective memory practices, remembering-with). The analytical guides do not provide a method for good remembering. Rather, they assist in the analysis of remembering practices insofar as they either support or fail to support the sorts of connections that good remembering requires. These connections are not just those between the past, present, and the future. As memory relies on external supports, the analytical guides also attend to the qualities of the connections between them, and between them and agents. The guides are selected on the basis that each one is a critical factor in the mnemonics of one or more of the four sets of environments and activities, or domains, that are examined in the study – namely: architecture; autobiographical memory; music; and, movement. The four domains share similar features and characteristics and so are not fully independent of each other. Their commonalities are the product of the close relationship between mind and space: not only does memory have an external component, but also the organisation of memory and space has similarities. Nevertheless, some commonalities can be manifested in seemingly non-spatial ways, such as ‘personalisation’. The spatiality that subtends memory, and permeates it with the rhythms it supports, is understood to support cultures of memory. Change in the spatiality of mind produces changes in the drawing of connections in remembering, and thus in the qualities of memory. The final part of the thesis suggests that the examples in the four domains, as well as the current spatiality of memory itself, which is interested in tracking the movements of things and their trajectories more generally, supports a culture of memory that is increasingly oriented to the future. This is not to say that a concern for ‘the future’ is the key to addressing all bad remembering. In more general terms, it is by attending to the rhythms of a mnemonic practice that agents are best positioned to take a critical approach to their remembering.
Keyword Collective memory dance
Extended mind/distributed cognition
The Future

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Created: Mon, 16 Apr 2012, 12:55:30 EST by Mr Monte Pemberton on behalf of Library - Information Access Service