Reconstructing the past and anticipating the future, i.e., the ability of travelling in mental time, is thought to be at the heart of consciousness and, by the same token, at the center of human cognition. This extraordinary mental activity is possible thanks
[...] Read more.
Reconstructing the past and anticipating the future, i.e.
, the ability of travelling in mental time, is thought to be at the heart of consciousness and, by the same token, at the center of human cognition. This extraordinary mental activity is possible thanks to the ability of being aware of ‘subjective time’. In the present study, we attempt to trace back the first recorded reflections on the relations between time and memory, to the end of the fourth century’s work, the Confessions,
by the theologian and philosopher, St. Augustine. We concentrate on Book 11, where he extensively developed a series of articulated and detailed observations on memory and time. On the bases of selected paragraphs, we endeavor to highlight some concepts that may be considered as the product of the first or, at least, very early reflections related to our current notions of subjective time in mental time travel. We also draw a fundamental difference inherent to the frameworks within which the questions were raised. The contribution of St. Augustine on time and memory remains significant, notwithstanding the 16 centuries elapsed since it was made, likely because of the universality of its contents.