Steve Fuller

The Spotless Mind

Memory: Fragments of a Modern History


University of Chicago Press 319pp £19.50 order from our bookshop

Does a history of ‘memory’ even have a proper subject matter? After all, anything may be said to contain memories if it can be used to access information about something else by virtue of having a means of registering some prior contact. Even if we confine ourselves to psychology, the meaning of ‘memory’ is not rendered much more manageable. In this context, the word points to a range of accounts – in equal measure intriguing and unsubstantiated – of the mind’s self-organising powers, which differ over matters of capacity, process, reliability and conscious control. Alison Winter has written a set of readable vignettes that makes these issues compelling without doing much to resolve them.

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