Episodic memory (EM) involves re-experiencing past experiences by means of mental imagery. Aphantasics (who lack mental imagery) and people with severely deficient autobiographical memory (SDAM) lack the ability to re-experience, which would imply that they don't have EM. However, aphantasics and people with SDAM have personal and affective memories, which are other defining aspects of EM (in addition to re-experiencing). This suggests that these supposed aspects of EM really are independent faculties or modules of memory, and that EM is a composite faculty rather than a natural kind. Apparent varieties of (normal and “defective”) EM (as well as some closely related kinds of memory) are different combinations of these modules, and the EM construct itself adds little if any explanatory value to these modules.
Kitazawa (2017) has proposed an interesting hypothesis about the processing of A-series time concepts—past, present, future—in the brain. The experiments on which it is based can be interpreted in two different ways; they are concerned with either our ability of processing linguistic expressions with different tenses or ability of imagining situations with different temporal specifications.
Time awareness has evolved from that involved in the primitive perception through the representation of immediate past and future to the highly detailed mental time travel performed by human beings. Language seems to be essential to human mental time travel, because mental time travel is an “episodic constructive process” that requires a developed form of imagination, which seems to be impossible without a language.
By considering the two different interpretations of the experiments, this paper tries to find out how our understanding of time expressions and imagining time in specific situations are related to each other.
Metaphysics of time involves plenty of dichotomies, and most of the debates are based on them. It is commonly supposed that contemporary metaphysics of time started with McTaggart's paradox which focuses on the dichotomy between A-theory and B-theory. In the later half of the twentieth century, many philosophers of time came to discuss the dichotomy of the tensed and the tenseless theories. More recent examples are found in the debate between three-dimensionalism and four-dimensionalism and that between presentism and eternalism. This paper aims to explore relationship between metaphysics of time and studies on so-called “mental time” with respect to these dichotomies discussed in metaphysics of time. The conclusion I will draw is that, with one exception, all of the dichotomies can be usefully preserved in studies on mental time. It indicates that the dichotomies accumulated through discussion in metaphysics of time can be useful for scientific studies, at least on mental time.
My objective is to offer at least a rough sketch of a new model for understanding time. Since many people are quite content with the model they have, I will try to show why a new model might be desirable or necessary. The exposition will be broken down into three parts. In the first part, I'll try to show that no one has ever experienced time as such. In the second part, I shall argue that one good reason for this is that there is no such thing as time as such. Finally, in the third part, I'll try to reassemble what's left of the conception of time after all this demolition, and I'll offer a positive model (albeit rather vague) of what I prefer to call “temporality”. The exposition will follow lines familiar to contemporary students of time, but will, I hope, lead to conclusions that are at least modestly novel.