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Confession / St. Sugustine. Analysis Of Memory In Augustine's Confessions

1836 words - 8 pages

In book X of Augustine's confessions, Augustine focuses on the world's existence in God. He follows this goal through the examination of memory; its relation to the self and its powers. St. Augustine focuses on memory as an unconscious knowledge, which eventually leads him to his knowledge of God. Augustine is no longer telling events of the past, but only of present time.Augustine begins his analysis of memory in a description of a house, "a storehouse for countless images of all kinds which are conveyed to it by the senses" (X: chapter 8, 214). The storehouse is a place where objects are deposited, retrieved, and re-stored; just like our memory where images are kept, and in need recovered. ...view middle of the document...

With memory, one's ability is limitless, "It is a vast, immeasurable sanctuary" (X: chapter 8, 216). However, memories can be forgotten; memories are widespread and they are not always on the edge of one's mind. In addition, memories are not only something that occurred, they are also emotions, which one felt in a certain situation. There are personal memories as well as memories of others.St. Augustine is fascinated by the size of the memory, as well as of the ability of the memory to know itself. He wonders at its ability to be so great that he does not fully recognize its capacity. Augustine is intricate by the notion that even the mind cannot contain the vast amount of memories, " This means, then, that the mind is too narrow to contain itself entirely" (X: chapter 8, 216). According to St. Augustine, memory is a mental concept, yet the mind is not broad enough for all the memory one has.Augustine examines memory in regards to ideas. Memory takes concepts and moves them to an internal spiritual area; it has no real location in one's mind. Augustine clarifies that the taste and smell of things go away, but the memory attains their images and is able to retrieve it from the storehouse in a short period of time. These images are attained by some sort of contact with the body; either by hearing, smell, taste, sight or by felling.St. Augustine, like the Plato, believes that the ideas in one's memory must have been in his mind before he learned it, waiting to be recognized. Augustine suggests, "It must have been that they were already in my memory, hidden away in its deeper recesses, in so remote a part of it that I might not have been able to think of them at all, if some other person had not brought them to the fore by teaching me about them" (X: chapter 10, 218). In recognizing an idea, one puts together pieces of the inclusive memory he has in his mind. In addition memories that are neglected slip back into remote places of the memory; these memories evolve and become new ones once more.Augustine makes an example of mathematical numbers in order to demonstrate the difference between the idea itself and the form in which one has learned it. Within the memory exist a sense of reasoning, numbers, and dimensions; mathematics for instance has nothing to do with the senses. One cannot smell, taste, touch or hear math; therefore, the numbers indicate a more perfect form already in one's mind.Augustine examines the ability to remember. He not only remembers specific things, but also recalls incidents where he memorized different information, which is the power of his memory. "And I remember that I have remembered, just as later on, if I remember that I have remember that I have been able to remember these facts now, it will be by the power of my memory that I shall remember doing so" (X: chapter 13, 220). Further on, St. Augustine examines the memory of things that are absent. The image of the missing idea is conceptualized in one's memory that it has...

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