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A socio-ecological theory of remembering

    -The (re)introduction of the particularity

              and the historicity to socio-cultural remembering-

The slides and texts were presented at the at the Poster Session of the 3rd ISCAR Congress (8 September, 2011, Rome, Italy).

Although recent researches stress the socio-cultural and communicative nature of remembering, they lacks a conception of experiencers who have their unique historicity. When we try to commit to judicial practice and to deal with survivors’ testimony of traumatic events, we have to distinguish between real experiences and fake ones in their remembering. Mori (2008 at the 2nd. ISCAR Conference) and Ohashi, Mori, Takagi, & Matusshima (2002) found that the historicity of rememberers reflects on the organisation and the microgenesis of their remembering.

    The introduction of rememberers’ historicity into remembering presupposes the introduction of environment and body because time is a correlate of our movement in environment (Gibson, 1966). Accoding to Sasaki’s (1996) pioneering study, we make the environment dual when we perform remembering. The duality consists of what has persisted from an original experience (large duration) and what has already changed (short duration). It is the condition under which remembering becomes possible. Remembering is an activity to detect an occluding edge (Gibson, 1979) that specifies the information of a targeted event in the dual environment. All human activities have two aspects – “exploratory” and “performatory” (Reed, 1996). The former is the exploration and the use of information in the environment. When this aspect is dominant, remembering begins with the exploration of the dual environment and terminates at the recognition that ‘something that existed before exists here and now’ (“the recognition type remembering’). On the other hand, performatory activity involves the alteration of the environment. Perfomatory activity oriented remembering starts with the generation of narrative actions in order to find the duality of the environment relating to a targeted event and results in the detection of an occluding edge specifying ‘something that existed before but not here and now‘ (“the recall type remembering”).    

    The two types of remembering are integrated if we find the generation of word meanings originating from bodily actions. A body theory of Osawa (1990) should be referred in order to complete this task. According to Osawa (1990), the coordination of more than two bodies is the fundamental form of our experiences, which he calls an “inter-bodily chain”. Earlier in ontogenesis, bodies in an inter-bodily chain are not yet differentiated. In this stage, each body replaces its intentionality with others. This phenomenon is called an “interchange of bodies.” Osawa describes how meanings and norms are generated in ontogenesis from the successive interchange of bodies. Although an effect of the interchange of bodies becomes latent after the establishment of word meanings, they do not disappear but are involved in all of our experiences.

    Depending on word meanings, our recognitions and actions must be transcendentally grasped, being sustained by an interchange of bodies in an inter-bodily chain as well. Thus, the duality of the environment becomes differentiated between ‘the duality in an inter-bodily chain‘ and ‘the duality grasped transcendentally by word meanings’ and the recall type remembering generates such two-fold duality of the environment and, at the same time, develops itself.

    What do you think that the veracity of experience is not into issue in the socio-cultural approach to remembering? How have the previous researchers dealt with ‘personal experiences’? Something constructed?  

    Do you know David Middleton & Brown’s work ‘Social psychology of experience’? What do they discuss about a concept of ‘personal experiences’? 

    Contrasting to their position, my (and my colleagues’) position should be called ‘Ecological psychology of experience’.

     We have examined the credibility of confession and testimony in judicial settings over a decade. And I was inspired by these practical works empirical studies and carried out some experiments in which I attempted to show the discrimination between remembering of the real experience and fake ones and resulted in success, I think.

    A certain defendant of a criminal case talked about his experience in a particular way. (You might say, “How can you confirm his experience was real ?” ) We cannot validate contents of experience because there is no answers nor records in everyday life. But we can specify that some events occurred, such as “I attended to the ISCAR Conference”, “I went to some nice ristrante last evening with friends.”  These contact to events or environment are reflected in forms of remembering. (e.g., The defendant examined by Ohashi et al. alterated agents when he talked about his experience, but referred to same agents, in most case, they are the defendant himself,   when he confessed. He has proved to be innocent by DNA retesting, so his confession can be said fake.)

    So, in order to secure our experience in remembering, we should introduce a concept of body and environment into socio-cultural remembering. 

    We are strongly inspired by Gibsonian approach to perception and action when construction a new theory of remembering. A pioneering study of remembering from a viewpoint of Gibsonian is Sasaki’s one. He argued remembering is a different mode of the exploration of environment from perception. Some of his keywords is ‘duration’ or ‘persistence’ and ‘duality’ and ‘exploration’. 

    Sasaki explains how remembering begins. Some necessities and requests to remember make unstable our orientation to a large duration. Responding to these necessities and requests, we start exploring the environment in order to reorient ourselves in the environment. In this point, we construct duality of duration = dualisation of the environment. into a large duration and shorter ones nested in the former. SEE Slide 6.

    This is a chart of the process of remembering. Remembering terminates when we reorient ourselves in a new environment = dualised environment. Reorientation is accomplished by the discovery of ‘something’ in dualised environment.

    What is ‘something’? This is the next task.

    It is an occluding edge of two adjacent durations. To understand this conclusion, we should refer to an occluding edge in perception.

    When we perceive a square pole, we know another surface exists and its shape is rectangle behind the occluding edge. A large duration in remembering is correspondent to ‘perception of a square pole’ and a short one to ‘perception of each surface. 

    This figure shows the structure of dualised durations when we perform remembering, and when the remembering results with success in the discovery of an occluding edge between two adjacent durations.

    In this remembering, the target event is ‘my talk about the previous slide’. This was found another surface behind the occluding edge that boarders between ‘now‘ = my talk about the present slide and your questioning to me and my talk on the previous slide. A large duration which include these two durations, analogous to a square pole in perception, is ‘a story or theme of my presentation’.    

    Gibsonians say, human activities have two aspects. They are ‘exploratory activity’ and ‘performatory activity’.

     This classification can be or have to be applied to the activity of remembering, and two types of remembering can be distinguished = Exploratory-dominant and performatory-oriented one. The former is called ‘recognition’ in cognitive psychology and the latter ‘recall’.

    Most kinds of activities that are studied in the socio-cultural approach to remembering are the latter, performatory-oriented. When we do this type of remembering, we use words or narrative actions. We dualise our environment with these artefacts or social constraints. 

    So now, we have to start ecologizing these social constraints.

    But this task was hard. I realized it during the preparation of my presentation. I’m not sure I can explain how ecologize social constraints.

     So, discussion and exchange of opinions are needed. Please save me!

    I refer to Osawa’s ‘body theory’. He is a Japanese sociologist who influences heavily onto Japanese psychologists. He attempted to make clear how social constraints=word meanings, grammar, narrative formulae, and institutions emerge from our bodily actions. The emergence of social constraints starts at an interchange of bodies, that is Osawa’s term. Interchange of bodies always happen especially earlier ontogenesis. In this stage, Osawa says, we exchange intentionality and cannot attribute each intentionality to its origin. 

    When number of intentionality is large enough, and large numbers of intentionality approach to a specific body, the specific body  cannot discriminate each of them and recognize a transcendental one exists. It is a third body that give us a sense of the existence of norm.