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Philosophy Colloquium with Marya Schechtman: Time in a Bottle

Marya Schechtman smiling for the camera
Friday, January 20, 2023
3:30 pm - 5:30 pm
Marya Schechtman
Philosophy Colloquium Series

Come join the Philosophy Department to hear Dr. Marya Schechtman of the University of Illinois at Chicago present "Time in a Bottle: Memory, Imagination, and Narrative Identity." Reception to follow.


It is often said that our memories "make us who we are". One application of this idea is found in psychological continuity accounts of identity of the sort offered by, e.g., David Lewis, John Perry, Sidney Shoemaker, and Derek Parfit. While these views employ the common thought that memory and identity are deeply intertwined, they offer no direct explanation of why or how we should take memory to play an important role in constituting personal identity. The implicit assumption seems to be that memories contribute to identity by providing stability in the contents of consciousness and maintaining causal connections to past experience. Recent empirical and philosophical work on memory suggests, however, that actual autobiographical memory may lack the features this assumption presupposes. These developments thus challenge the traditional picture of the relation between memory and personal identity. But they also offer resources for developing a different way of thinking about this relation, one which is more diffuse and complex, but also more realistic and illuminating. In this talk I lay out the challenge to standard views of the connection between memory and identity and describe the alternative approach inspired by new understandings of the nature and mechanisms of autobiographical memory.

Dr. Schechtman's research interests include personal identity, philosophy of memory, and bioethics. Learn more about her at

Contact: Rachel Gilbert