Philosophy- Is Memory Reliable?

Topics: Automobile, Critical thinking, Reasoning Pages: 2 (594 words) Published: April 20, 2012
Position Paper #2

How would I prove that my memory or reasoning processes are reliable? There really is no good way to answer this question. My first thought was, well that should be easy, because I can prove my memory is reliable by the fact that I remember where class is every day that I show up. If I can remember where the classroom is, that must show my memory is reliable. But then I realized that I’m relying on a memory to come up with that example. This makes the question seem like a paradox to even try and answer, because in order to figure out if there is a way to prove my memory is reliable, I must use my memory to recall memories that might apply, and I must also assume the accuracy of the memories I might draw from as example. I cannot prove memory reliability by using logic drawn from the assumption that the memories I used are reliable. This seems to create a fallacy in logic before even getting started.

In reality it seems easy to say that yes, although our memories are sometimes wrong, generally more often than not they are right. We know this because we recall from our memory many times each day to do the simplest tasks. If our memory was that flawed, we would be unable to survive on a day to day basis. Where do I get water? How do I get food? How do I drive a car? While this does show that we are able to rely on our memories to complete everyday tasks, it doesn’t prove our memory is consistently true. We cannot be sure that any memory we’ve ever had actually happened exactly the way we remember it (unless material sources are used, like video or pictures to back up the memory) because of a multitude of problems with memory like delusion and distortion. Memories can be easily manipulated and altered in many different ways, from simple re-telling where little details may be unwittingly changed each time a memory is told, to the power of suggestion in which an entirely false memory can be implanted into a persons mind and believed to be true...
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