What Is a Memory, That It May Comprehend Itself?

Self-Referential Implications of the Phenomenology of Remembering


The phenomenon of memory, thought as a general property of some natural or artificial systems, can be analyzed only within the frame of a process approach to reality. In this view, some epistemological paradigms, related to the notions of autopoiesis, self-organization, and self-reference, seem to bear a profound relevance for the essence of memory, as function ensuring temporal coherence to complex systems. On the other hand, the meta-mnemonic power of memory systems, that can self-represent themselves, potentially gives rise to self-referential paradoxes. These antinomies involve some critical logical issues: the problem of self-encoding within a formal untyped language, the threat of infinite regress, and the need for non-isomorphic models of memory. Many formal and/or computational models and notions have been developed to cope with such issues, in the last few decades, by logicians and mathematicians – like indication calculus, hyperset theory, co-algebras – all aimed at explaining self-reference as a constitutive and non-paradoxical process in complex systems, like living organisms or concurrent information systems. Most of these ideas may suggest new metaphors and models to think about memory and may induce further reflection toward a definition of the essential systemic nature of the phenomenology of remembering involving and connecting together different notions, as self-description, reversibility, entropy, and life itself. Moreover, the application of these models to the problem of memory could bring to consider some general epistemological issues, related to the structural coupling between the notions of time and consciousness.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.MicronAgrate Brianza (MB)Italy

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