Philosophy – Is Memory Reliable Essay

How would I prove that my memory or reasoning processes are reliable? There really is no good way to answer this question. My first thought was, well that should be easy, because I can prove my memory is reliable by the fact that I remember where class is every day that I show up. If I can remember where the classroom is, that must show my memory is reliable. But then I realized that I’m relying on a memory to come up with that example.

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This makes the question seem like a paradox to even try and answer, because in order to figure out if there is a way to prove my memory is reliable, I must use my memory to recall memories that might apply, and I must also assume the accuracy of the memories I might draw from as example. I cannot prove memory reliability by using logic drawn from the assumption that the memories I used are reliable.

This seems to create a fallacy in logic before even getting started.

In reality it seems easy to say that yes, although our memories are sometimes wrong, generally more often than not they are right. We know this because we recall from our memory many times each day to do the simplest tasks. If our memory was that flawed, we would be unable to survive on a day to day basis. Where do I get water? How do I get food? How do I drive a car? While this does show that we are able to rely on our memories to complete everyday tasks, it doesn’t prove our memory is consistently true.

We cannot be sure that any memory we’ve ever had actually happened exactly the way we remember it (unless material sources are used, like video or pictures to back up the memory) because of a multitude of problems with memory like delusion and distortion. Memories can be easily manipulated and altered in many different ways, from simple re-telling where little details may be unwittingly changed each time a memory is told, to the power of suggestion in which an entirely false memory can be implanted into a persons mind and believed to be true by that person.

Although these memories may seem very real to us, even to the point where we are willing to fight for their reliability, they are still factually false. This actually happens a lot! Although it practice these issues with memory exist, they are mostly ignored because we typically use other methods beyond memory alone to help collaborate what we remember. We are validated by others who share the same memory, photos, ect. So although in a philosophical world it seems impossible to find solid clear evidence that memory is truly reliable, but it seems silly, and even dangerous to continually doubt that memory can be reliably called upon.

For example, I decide to cross the road without looking both ways because I cannot be sure that being hit by a car would kill me. I might have seen and heard of people being killed by cars in the past, but if I doubt my own memory how could I be sure that speeding cars have the potential to actually kill people. Because of this seemingly correct logic I might then be hit by a car and become a victim of what many would say is clear common sense. So although there is no good way to prove the reliability of memory, we must still rely on it all the same.

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