2018 Annual Uehiro Lectures (1/3): Dementia & The Social Scaffold Of Memory
Professor Richard Holton, Professor of Philosopy at the University of Cambridge
Monday, 21 May 2018, 4.30pm to 6.30pm
Lecture theatre, Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford, 34 Broad Street, Oxford, OX1 3BDBook your place online
Series title: Illness and the Social Self
Loss of memory is a central feature of dementia. On a Lockean picture of personal identity, as memory is lost, so is the person. But the initial effect of dementia is not the simple destruction of memory. Many memories can be recognized with suitable prompting and scaffolding, something that thoughtful family and friends will naturally offer. This suggests a problem of access. More radically, if memory itself is a constructive process, it suggests a problem of missing resources for construction - resources which can be provided by others. This applies equally to procedural memories—to the practical skills likewise threatened by dementia. This leads us away from a narrowly Lockean approach: the power to recognize a memory, or exercise a skill, may be as important as the power to recall; and contributions from others may be as important as those from the subject.