Immersing oneself into one’s past: subjective presence can be part of the experience of episodic remembering


Episodic memory

How to Cite

Perrin, D., & Barkasi, M. (2024). Immersing oneself into one’s past: subjective presence can be part of the experience of episodic remembering . Philosophy and the Mind Sciences, 5.


A common view about the phenomenology of episodic remembering has it that when we remember a perceptual experience, we can relive or re-experience many of its features, but not its characteristic presence. In this paper, we challenge this common view. We first say that presence in perception divides into temporal and locative presence, with locative having two sides, an objective and a subjective one. While we agree with the common view that temporal and objective locative presence cannot be relived in remembering, we argue that subjective locative presence – the feeling of being immersed in a certain scene – can be so. Our argument for this claim starts by determining independently the underpinning mechanisms of subjective locative presence in quasi-perceptual imagination. These mechanisms are self-projection, imaginative pretence, and attentional focus. We then proceed to establish that they have been found to underpin conscious states of episodic remembering too. We conclude that episodic remembering can bring us to relive the subjective locative presence characteristic of a perceptual experience, and that the common view is mistaken. Our view – ‘mnemonic immersivism’ – has important consequences regarding the relationships between memory and imagination and the phenomenology of episodic remembering.


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