This category contains 3 posts

“Living life forward” may require looking back

Memory’s contribution to knowledge seems fairly straightforward. To know something, you need to remember it, right? But the purposes of memory go far deeper than that. Not only does memory help understand our past, but it seems to play a vital role in how we understand, construct and cope with our present. This recent article in the New York Times focusses specifically on nostalgia, that bittersweet longing we all feel now and then for a past moment, period or place in our lives. Far from being self-indulgent or simply “living in the past,” nostalgia seems to provoke a number of positive physiological and psychological responses.… Read the rest

Synthesizing happiness (without a prescription)

Of all the primary emotions, happiness is the one we’re all aching for more of. And how do we get more? We go out and grab it, right? If we’re lucky enough to have a sufficient degree of freedom, we make our choices, act carefully, get what we want and happiness follows.

Or maybe not. The following talk by Dan Gilbert questions not only our ideas of where happiness comes from, but even the role freedom plays in acquiring it. Is happiness – I mean the lasting kind – more about making the best of our lot in life than about getting what we want?… Read the rest

Memory and identity

When we try to explain to ourselves or to others what constitutes our core self – if indeed to try to do this at all – we often turn to our past experiences. Surely a large part of who we are is what we have experienced and the knowledge we have acquired along the way. But is there more to the self than experience? Would remain in any sense ourselves if our memories were taken from us? Over at The Atlantic, Daniel Levitin takes a closer look at the case of retrograde amnesia and the self that remains when memory is lost.… Read the rest

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