Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Memory and Thinking

There is a difference between memory and thinking which is often overlooked; this oversight is aptly demonstrated by the difference between what we know and what we think, two activities often mistaken to be the same. While one is static and data based, the other is a flowing process. However, it would be necessary to prove this difference, and to do that it would be necessary to isolate one from the other in a given situation.

I have to pick my mom from the railway station everyday at 6:15 pm. I was leaving my house at 5:55 pm, and informed my grand-mom about it. She exclaimed, "It's six 'o clock." She was referring to the wall-clock, which had been set early by five minutes. I said, "No, it's five fifty-five. The clock is ahead by five minutes." Granny showed no signs of any familiarity with this state of the clock. This was in spite of her living with us for thirty years! (The clock, though, is fifteen years old, and has been so set since it came to our house/This in no way adds to the favor of granny, who should have known the primeval condition of the clock. I may also add that even before the advent of the clock, it has been a family habit to keep the clocks and watches five minutes ahead of standard time).

The fact that the clock is five minutes faster is a fact of memory. Though, being a senile lady who suffers from memory loss, this escapes my grand-mom. But, loss of memory doesn't entail loss of mental activity, for she can look at the clock and judge that it is six 'o clock. That is active thinking. Looking at me, it would seem that thinking and memory are the same, for I state what I recall. But, it may be noticed, I recall it as a negation of the claim that it is six 'o clock, and this was not a part of my memory, and was spontaneous in its birth. This proves that though they may be merged at will and by ability, thinking and memory are two distinct aspects of the mind, the former an activity and the latter a state.

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