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Metaphors of Memory: A History of Ideas about the Mind [Hardcover]

Douwe Draaisma , Paul Vincent

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Book Description

7 Dec 2000 0521650240 978-0521650243
What is memory? It is at the same time ephemeral, unreliable and essential to everything we do. Without memory we lose our sense of identity, reasoning, even our ability to perform simple physical tasks. Yet it is also elusive and difficult to define, and throughout the ages philosophers and psychologists have used metaphors as a way of understanding it. First published in 2000, this fascinating book takes the reader on a guided tour of these metaphors of memory from ancient times to the present day. Crossing continents and disciplines, it provides a compelling history of ideas about the mind by exploring the way these metaphors have been used - metaphors often derived from the techniques and instruments developed over the years to store information, ranging from wax tablets and books to photography, computers and even the hologram. Accessible and thought-provoking, this book should be read by anyone who is interested in memory and the mind.

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Review

'A fascinating survey of ideas on memory across the centuries, showing that suggestive metaphors have been essential stepping stones in our understanding of the mind. Highly recommended!' Jean Aitchison, University of Oxford

'A superb history … richly thought-provoking.' Stephen Rose, The Times Higher Education Supplement

'An intellectually sophisticated book, rich in insight and detail.' The Economist

'Metaphors of Memory is fascinating, informative, accessible, and highly recommended to students of psychology and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the nature of memory and its relationship to the human mind.' Amazon.com

Book Description

What is memory? Elusive and difficult to define, philosophers and psychologists through the ages have used metaphors as a way of understanding it. First published in 2000, this fascinating book takes the reader on a guided tour of these metaphors of memory from ancient times to the present day.

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First Sentence
Whenever I distrust my memory, writes Freud in a note of 1925, I can resort to pen and paper. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Our memory of memory research 19 April 2010
By Emre Sevinc - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a highly accessible account of the history of brain research that focuses on memory and how our views on memory changed throughout the ages as we invented new metaphors while 'forgetting' some old ones. The author tracks the subtle changes in the use of metaphors in describing the nature of memory and he compares the explanatory power of metaphors using beautiful examples. He also touches upon the point of whether using metaphors are really useful in explaining scientific theories and then provides some surprising examples from the writings of Hooke. I owe the author my enlightenment on the topic of Hooke's memory research. I certainly was not aware of some very interesting papers by Robert Hooke in which he tried to describe the functioning of human memory. This example alone is more than enough to show the depth of Douwe Draaisma's research into the history of psychology. But he does not stop there and goes on to provide astonishing parts from that history, especially in the chapters related to the period before and after Hermann Ebbinghaus.

While keeping a very strong narrative on the history of memory, Draaisma never forgets to touch upon the psychological and socio-economical dynamics that shape the scientists and the world they live in. The part about the connections between the holographic memory theory and the modern connectionism / neural network theories is worth reading more than once because it is a very good example of science history, a history that is still alive.

This book will probably satisfy both the layman and the educated reader, both will learn different things and gain a better perspective on the deep and humane subject of memory.
10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative, accessible, and highly recommended 19 Mar 2001
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Douwe Draaisma is a lecturer in the history of psychology at the University of Groningen. In Metaphors Of Memory: A History Of Ideas About The Mind he explores what memory is, how it is ephemeral, unreliable, and yet essential to everything a person does. Without memory we lose ability to perform simple physical tasks. Memory is elusive to define and from antiquity attempts to discuss or describe it have relied on metaphor. Draaisma provides the reader with a kind of guided tour of these metaphors throughout the ages and presents a compelling, scholarly history of ideas about the mind by exploring the ways these metaphors have been employed. Metaphors Of Memory: is fascinating, informative, accessible, and highly recommended to students of psychology and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the nature of memory and its relationship to the human mind.
1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Reading.. 7 Feb 2006
By MissC - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
for those interested in the study of memory and the history of the field.
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