Russell on Mnemic Causation


  • Sven Bernecker University of Munich



According to the standard view, the causal process connecting a past representation and its subsequent recall involves intermediary memory traces. Yet Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein held that since the physiological evidence for memory traces isn't quite conclusive, it is prudent to come up with an account of memory causation-referred to as nmemic causation—that manages without the stipulation of memory traces. Given mnemic causation, a past representation is directly causally active over a temporal distance. I argue that the stipulation of memory traces is indeed indispensable for analyzing mernory causation.

Author Biography

Sven Bernecker, University of Munich

Sven Bernecker is "lehrbeauftragter Professor" at the University of Munich and Professor of Philosophy at the University of California at Irvine. Before coming to Irvine he was Lecturer at the University of Manchester (2003-2006). Before that he taught at Birkbeck College London (2003), and spent six years as Assistant Professor at the University of Munich (1997-2003). Furthermore, he was Visiting Professor both at the University of Minnesota (2002) and at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil (2000), and he was Visiting Scholar at Stanford University (1997 and 1998).
Sven Bernecker has an M.A. in philosophy from the University of Munich (1990), a Ph.D. in philosophy from Stanford University (1997), and got the Habilitation in philosophy from the University of Munich (2002). His research areas are epistemology, philosophy of mind, metaphysics, Kant and German Idealism.