Memory pp 70-77 | Cite as

Personal Memory

Part of the Problems of Philosophy book series (PRPH)


Personal memory is the memory we have of particular items—people, places, things, events, situations—that we have personally experienced. It is in this way that I remember Vienna, because I have been there, but not Hong Kong; that I remember yesterday’s meeting, but not the Napoleonic Wars, because they were before my time. The distinctive feature of this form of memory is not that it is memory of specific items as opposed to memory of facts and skills; we sometimes speak of remembering specific items without it being personal memory that is involved. In reciting a list of African capitals, I may remember Accra and forget Cairo, but remembering Accra is not personal memory, because I have never been there. The distinctive feature of personal memory is that it is memory of items that you have experienced for yourself, in the loose and broad sense of “experience” in which I experienced the Second World War because I lived through it, even though I did not see any battles, hear any guns, or feel any explosions.


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© Don Locke 1971

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