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Plotino - Tratado 41,3 (IV, 6, 3) — A Memória

Enéada IV, 6, 3

sábado 14 de maio de 2022, por Cardoso de Castro

    

Capítulo 3: A memória

  • Cap 3, 1-19: A alma  , entre o inteligível e o sensível. Os objetos sensíveis, como os inteligíveis, são apropriados à natureza da alma. Em os apreendendo, ela atualiza seus poderes ou faculdades   constitutivas
  • Cap 3, 19-25: A lembrança deriva espontaneamente da sensação
  • Cap3, 25-29: A memória não se explica pela conservação de marcas   materiais, e ela não implica nenhuma passividade
  • Cap3, 60-78: A memória é portanto uma atividade   da alma e o exercício positivo de uma atitude
    

Míguez

3. Ahora nos toca hablar de la memoria. Y hemos de considerar como nada sorprendente, o mejor como verdaderamente sorprendente y, con todo, digno de crédito, que el alma   cuente con una potencia tal que, aun sin recibir cosa alguna en sí misma, alcance a percibir los objetos que no posee. Porque el alma es, efectivamente, la razón de todas las cosas. Como tal razón es a la vez la última de las realidades inteligibles o de las cosas comprendidas en estas realidades, y la primera de las cosas existentes en el universo   sensible  . Tiene, pues, relación con los dos mundos. Y así, por un lado vive felizmente y resucita a la vida, y por otro es víctima de un engaño por la semejanza con el primer mundo, dejándose llevar hacia abajo por el hechizo de los encantos.

En medio de estos dos mundos, el alma percibe uno y otro. Se dice que piensa en los seres inteligibles cuando dirige hacia ellos su memoria. Si realmente conoce estos seres es porque también se cuenta entre ellos. Pero los conoce, no porque asienten en ella, sino porque ella los posee de algún modo y, en consecuencia, puede contemplarlos, al ser oscuramente lo que ellos mismos son. Luego, al despertarse y pasar de la potencia al acto, esos seres de que hablamos, de oscuros que eran se hacen infinitamente más claros. Por otra parte, está enlazada asimismo con los seres sensibles, a los que ilumina con un resplandor que proviene de ella. Y de tal modo ocurre esto que su propia actividad los coloca delante de sus ojos, mediante la disposición característica de su potencia que se prepara al trance de engendrar. Porque cuando el alma aplica su esfuerzo a cualquiera de los objetos representados en ella, permanece favorablemente dispuesta hacia ese objeto durante mucho tiempo, y tanto más cuanto mayor haya   sido el esfuerzo. De ahí que se afirme que los niños tienen más memoria, porque sus recuerdos no se alejan de ellos, sino que permanecen delante de sus ojos, como si viesen tan sólo un pequeño número   de objetos. Si su reflexión y su poder se extendiesen a más objetos, pasarían sobre ellos sin apenas detenerse. Verdaderamente, aun en el caso de que las improntas persistiesen, esto no haría disminuir en nada nuestra memoria. No habría necesidad de reflexión para conseguir recordar, ni podría ocurrir que comenzásemos por olvidar para obtener luego la reminiscencia, si las improntas no desaparecen nunca.

Es claro, además, que los ejercicios memorísticos tienen como resultado el fortalecimiento del alma, lo mismo que los ejercicios verificados con nuestras manos o con nuestros pies nos permiten hacer fácilmente algunas cosas que, en otro caso, no sería posible realizar, de no darse precisamente la debida disposición gracias a la continuidad en el esfuerzo. ¿Por qué, por ejemplo, no recordamos una cosa que hemos oído tan sólo una o dos veces, y la recordamos, en cambio, luego de haberla oído varias veces? ¿Y por qué recordamos mucho después una cosa que, al oírla, no la habíamos retenido? No será debido, sin duda, a que poseyésemos primeramente algunas partes de la impronta, porque en ese caso las recordaríamos. Y es bien cierto, por otra parte, que recordamos de súbito   y en totalidad luego de la última audición o de cualquier otro ejercicio. Prueba evidente   de que puede estimularse la facultad de la memoria en el alma, vigorizándola de una manera general o con vistas a un determinado recuerdo.

Pero no sólo favorecemos con el ejercicio el recuerdo de las cosas presentes en nuestra memoria, sino incluso el de muchas otras que persisten en nosotros gracias al hábito   de los ejercicios de dicción, haciendo así más fáciles todos los restantes recuerdos. ¿Qué otra causa   podríamos invocar para esto sino el redoblado vigor de la memoria? Porque la persistencia de las improntas sería señal de debilidad antes que afirmación de poder, ya que un cuerpo recibe mejor las improntas cuanto más fácilmente se abandona. Y siendo, además, la impronta algo pasivo, la recordaríamos tanto más cuanto más pasivos fuésemos. Pero, al parecer, es lo contrario lo que ocurre: el ejercicio no aumenta en ningún caso la pasividad, y en las mismas sensaciones no es el ojo poco hecho a la visión el que ve mejor, sino justamente el que ha desarrollado más actividad. Por eso, en los viejos corren parejas la debilidad de las sensaciones y la debilidad de la memoria. Pues la sensación, lo mismo que la memoria, ha de poseer un cierto vigor. De ahí que, si las sensaciones no son improntas, ¿cómo va a conservar la memoria algo que nunca permaneció en el alma, ni siquiera a título de principio? Si, por otra parte, la memoria es un poder y una disposición para algo, ¿por qué no recordamos las cosas al tiempo que las vemos, y sí, en cambio, más tarde, al reactivar las ideas en nuestro espíritu? Es, sin duda, porque hemos de asentar este poder y mantenerlo en buena disposición. Lo cual comprobamos también en los otros poderes, que no pueden realmente actuar si no se les dispone para ello; así, unas veces actúan al momento, y otras lo hacen luego de reunir   sus propias fuerzas.

Las más de las veces la buena memoria y la vivacidad de espíritu no son una misma cosa, sino más bien dos facultades distintas. Ocurre otro tanto con un buen púgil que, con harta frecuencia, no es un fácil corredor; en cada cosa, una facultad constituirá carácter dominante.

Aun contando con los excesos del alma, nada podría impedir que ésta reconociese las improntas existentes en ella, ni, a despecho de su poca consistencia, que fuese incapaz de sufrir las impresiones e incluso de retenerlas. La carencia de extensión del alma nos prueba verdaderamente su poder. No resulta, pues, sorprendente que todo lo que se diga sobre el alma difiera en esencia de lo que han venido sosteniendo hombres que nada investigaron, hombres que se fiaron más bien de las primeras impresiones sensibles, las cuales nos engañan fácilmente por razón de su semejanza. Para ellos lo que se trasluce de las sensaciones y de los recuerdos no es otra cosa que letras escritas en planchas o en tablillas. Y ya consideren el alma como un cuerpo, ya la vean como algo incorpóreo  , no alcanzan a comprender la imposibilidad de su hipótesis.

Bouillet

III. Il nous reste maintenant à parler de la mémoire. Commençons par dire que nous attribuons à l’âme une puissance qui n’est pas étonnante, ou qui est étonnante si l’on veut, mais qui n’est pas incroyable : elle consiste en ce que l’âme, sans rien recevoir, perçoit cependant les choses qu’elle n’a pas (13). C’est que l’âme est par sa nature la raison de toutes choses (λόγος πάντων), la raison dernière des choses intelligibles, la raison première des choses sensibles (14). Aussi a-t-elle des relations avec toutes les deux ; elle est améliorée et vivifiée par les choses intelligibles; mais elle est trompée par la ressemblance qu’ont les choses sensibles avec les choses intelligibles, et elle descend ici-bas comme entraînée par le charme qui la séduit (15). Elle connaît donc également les choses intelligibles et les choses sensibles parce qu’elle occupe une position intermédiaire entre elles. On dit qu’elle pense les choses intelligibles quand elle se les rappelle en s’y appliquant (16). Elle les connaît parce qu’elle est 430 ces choses d’une certaine manière; elle les connaît, non parce qu’elle les place en elle-même, mais parce qu’elle les possède en quelque sorte, qu’elle en a l’intuition  ; parce que, étant ces choses d’une manière obscure, elle se réveille, passe de l’obscurité à la clarté, de la puissance à l’acte. Elle se comporte de la même façon pour les choses sensibles : en les rapprochant de ce qu’elle a en elle-même, elle les rend lumineuses, elle en a l’intuition (17), parce qu’elle possède une puissance prête [à les percevoir et] à les enfanter pour ainsi dire (18). Quand l’âme a appliqué toute la force de son attention à un des objets qui s’offrent à elle, elle en reste longtemps affectée comme si cet objet était présent, et 431 plus elle l’a considéré avec attention, plus longtemps elle le voit (19). C’est pour cela que les enfants ont plus de mémoire : ils n’abandonnent pas vite un objet, ils y attachent longtemps leurs regards : au lieu de se laisser distraire par une foule d’objets, ils accordent leur attention uniquement à quelques-uns d’entre eux. Ceux au contraire dont la pensée et les facultés s’occupent de beaucoup de choses les parcourent en quelque sorte et ne s’y arrêtent pas.

Si la mémoire consistait à conserver des images (20), leur nombre ne l’affaiblirait pas; si elle les gardait renfermées en elle-même, elle n’aurait pas besoin de réfléchir pour se les rappeler, elle ne pourrait non plus se les rappeler tout à coup après les avoir oubliées (21). L’exercice ne fait autre chose qu’accroître l’énergie et la force de la mémoire (22), comme l’exercice que nous donnons à nos pieds ou à nos mains n’a d’autre but que de nous mettre en état de faire plus facilement certaines choses qui ne sont ni dans nos pieds ni dans nos mains, mais auxquelles ces membres deviennent plus aptes par l’habitude. Pourquoi d’ailleurs ne se souvient-on pas d’une chose quand on ne l’a entendue qu’une ou deux fois ? Pourquoi, lorsqu’on l’a souvent entendue, se la rappelle-t-on 432 longtemps, bien qu’on ne l’ait pas d’abord retenue? Ce n’est pas parce qu’on n’aurait d’abord retenuque quelques parties de l’image : car alors on se rappellerait ces parties. Au contraire, le souvenir se produit tout d’un coup à la suite «Je la dernière audition ou de la dernière réflexion. Ce fait montre assez qu’on ne fait qu’éveiller dans l’âme la faculté de la mémoire, que lui donner une nouvelle énergie, soit pour toutes choses en général, soitpour une en particulier (23). La mémoire d’ailleurs ne nous rend pas seulement les choses auxquelles nous avons réfléchi  ; elle nous suggère encore une foule d’autres souvenirs par l’habitude qu’elle a de se servir de certains indices dont il suffit de retrouver un seul pour se rappeler le reste facilement (24): comment peut-on expliquer ce fait autrement qu’en admettant que la faculté de la mémoire s’est fortifiée? La conservation d’images dans l’âme indiquerait plutôt de la faiblesse que de la force : car, pour recevoir plusieurs empreintes, il faut se prêter facilement à toute forme. Toute empreinte étant une passion, il s’ensuivrait que la mémoire serait proportionnée à la passivité. Or, c’est évidemment le contraire qui a lieu. Jamais un exercice, quel qu’il soit, ne rend l’être   qui s’y livre plus 433 propre à pâtir. D’ailleurs, dans les sensations, ce n’est pas l’organe débile et impuissant par lui-même qui perçoit; ce n’est pas l’œil qui voit, par exemple, c’est la puissance active de l’âme. C’est pour cela que les vieillards ont à la fois des sensations et des souvenirs plus faibles. La sensation et la mémoire impliquent donc quelque énergie.

Puisque la sensation n’est pas l’impression d’une image dans l’âme, comment la mémoire pourrait-elle être le dépôt de choses qu’elle n’a pas reçues ? — Mais, si elle est une faculté (δύναμις), une disposition (παρασκευή (25)), pourquoi ne nous rappelons-nous pas sur-le-champ ce que nous avons appris et nous faut-il quelque temps pour nous en souvenir?— C’est que nous avons besoin de nous rendre maître de notre faculté et de l’appliquer à son objet. Il en est de même pour nos autres facultés : il faut que nous les préparions à remplir leurs fonctions; tantôt elles agissent sur-le-charnp, tantôt elles ont besoin de recueillir leurs forces. Souvent les mêmes hommes n’ont pas à la fois de la mémoire et de la pénétration, parce que ce n’est pas la même faculté qui est en jeu dans ces deux cas. Ainsi, l’athlète n’est pas le même que le coureur. Des dispositions différentes dominent dans chacun. D’ailleurs rien n’empêche que l’homme qui a l’âme forte   et tenace ne relise en quelque sorte ce que retient sa mémoire, et que celui qui laisse échapper beaucoup de choses ne soit disposé par sa faiblesse à éprouver et à conserver des affections passives. D’ailleurs, la propriété qu’a l’âme de n’être pas étendue prouve qu’elle est une puissance.

En général, tous les faits qui se passent, dans l’âme s’y produisent d’une manière fort différente de celle qu’imaginent les hommes qui ne les ont jamais examinés, et fort différente aussi de celle dont s’opèrent les phénomènes 434 sensibles qui induisent en erreur par leur analogie (26). De là vient que les hommes dont nous parlons croient que les sensations et les souvenirs ressemblent à des caractères inscrits sur des tablettes ou des feuilles de papier. Or, qu’ils regardent l’âme comme matérielle ou immatérielle, ils ignorent certainement les conséquences absurdes qui ressortent d’une telle opinion.

Guthrie

B. OF MEMORY.

MEMORY ACTS THROUGH THE SYMPATHY OF THE SOUL’S HIGHEST SELF.

3. Treating of memory, we must begin by attributing to the soul a power which, though surprising, is perhaps really neither strange nor incredible. The soul, without receiving anything, nevertheless perceives the things she does not have. The (secret of this) is that by nature the soul is the reason of all things, the last reason of intelligible entities, and the first reason of sense-objects. Consequently the soul is in relation with both (spheres) ; by the intelligible things the soul is improved and vivified; but she is deceived by the resemblance which sense-objects bear to intelligible entities, and the soul descends here below as if drawn by her alluring charm. Because she occupies a position intermediary between intelligible entities and sense-objects, the soul occupies a position intermediary be-tween them. She is said to think intelligible entities wl)en, by applying herself to them, she recalls them. She cognizes them because, in a certain manner, she actually constitutes these entities; she cognizes them, not because she posits them within herself, but because she somehow possesses them, and has an intuition of them; because, obscurely constituting these things, she awakes, passing from obscurity to clearness, and from potentiality to actualization. For sense-objects she acts in the same way. By relating them to what she possesses within herself, she makes them luminous, and has an intuition of them, possessing as she does a potentiality suitable to (a perception of) them; and, so to speak, to begetting them. When the soul has applied the whole force of her attention to one of the objects that offer themselves to her, she, for a long while, thereby remains affected as if this object were present; and the more attentively she considers it, the longer she sees it. That is why children have a stronger memory; they do not quickly abandon an object, but lingeringly fix their gaze upon it; instead of allowing themselves to be distracted by a crowd of objects, they direct their attention exclusively to some one of them. On the contrary, those whose thought and faculties are absorbed by a variety of objects, do not rest with any one, and do no more than look them over.

MEMORY IS NOT AN IMAGE, BUT THE REAWAKENING OF A FACULTY.

If memory consisted in the préservation of images, their numerousness would not weaken memory. If memory kept these images stored within itself, it would have no need of reflection to recall them, nor could memory recall them suddenly after having forgotten them. Further, exercise does not weaken, but increases the energy and force of memory, just as the purpose of exercise of our feet or hands is only to put ourselves in a better condition more easily to accomplish certain things which are neither in our feet nor our hands, but to which these members become better adapted by habit.

Besides (if memory be only storage of images), why then does one not remember a thing when it has been heard but once or twice ? Why, when it has been heard often, is it long remembered, although it was not retained at first? This can surely not be because at first only some part of the images had been retained; for in that case those parts would be easily recalled. On the contrary, memory is produced suddenly as a result of the last hearing or reflexion. This clearly proves that, in the soul, we are only awaking the faculty of memory, only imparting to it new energy, either for all things in general, or for one in particular.

Again, memory does not bring back to us only the things about which we have reflected; (by association of ideas) memory suggests to us besides a multitude of other memories through its habit of using certain indices any one of which suffices easily to recall all the remainder; how could this fact be explained except by admitting that the faculty of memory had become strengthened?

Once more, the preservation of images in the soul ! would indicate weakness rather than strength, for the reception of several impressions would imply an easy yielding to all forms. Since every impression is an experience, memory would be measured by passive receptivity; which, of course, is the very contrary of the state of affairs. Never did any exercise whatever render the exercising being more fitted to suffering (or, receptive experience).

MEMORY NEEDS TRAINING AND EDUCATION.

It may be asked however, why, if memory be a «faculty» (a potentiality) or disposition, we do not immediately remember what we have learned, and why we need some time to recall it ? It is because we need to master our own faculty, and to apply it to its object. Not otherwise is it with our other faculties, which we have to fit to fulfil their functions, and though some of them may react promptly, others also may need time to gather their forces together. The same man does not always simultaneously exercise memory and judgment, because it is not the same faculty that is active in both cases. Thus there is a difference between the wrestler and the runner. Different dispositions react in each. Besides, nothing that we have said would militate against distinguishing between the man of strong and tenacious soul who would be inclined to read over what is recalled by his memory, while he who lets many things escape him would by his very weakness be disposed to experience and preserve passive affections. Again, memory must be a potentiality of the soul, inasmuch as the soul has no extension (and therefore could not be a storage-place for images which imply three dimensions).

Still another argument: in sensations, it is not the weak and impotent organ which perceives by itself; it is not, for instance, the eye that sees, but the active potentiality of the soul. That is why old people have both sensations and memories that are weaker. Both sensation and memory, therefore, imply some energy.

Last, as we have seen that sensation is not the impression of an image in the soul, memory could not be the storage-place of images it could not have received.

SOUL EVENTS OCCUR VERY DIFFERENTLY FROM WHAT IS SUPPOSED BY THE UNOBSERVANT OR UNREFLECTIVE.

In general all the processes of the soul occur in a manner very different from that conceived by unobservant men. Psychic phenomena occur very differently from sense-phenomena, the analogy of which may lead to very serious errors. Hence the above unobservant men imagine that sensations and memories resemble characters inscribed on tablets or sheets of paper. Whether they consider the soul material (as do the Stoics)", or as immaterial (as do the Peripatetics), they certainly do not realize the absurd consequences which would result from the above hypothesis.

MacKenna

3. With this prologue we come to our discussion of Memory.

That the soul, or mind  , having taken no imprint, yet achieves perception of what it in no way contains need not surprise us; or rather, surprising though it is, we cannot refuse to believe in this remarkable power.

The Soul is the Reason-Principle of the universe, ultimate among the Intellectual Beings - its own essential Nature is one of the Beings of the Intellectual Realm - but it is the primal   Reason-Principle of the entire realm of sense.

Thus it has dealings with both orders - benefited and quickened by the one, but by the other beguiled, falling before resemblances, and so led downwards as under spell. Poised midway, it is aware of both spheres.

Of the Intellectual it is said to have intuition by memory upon approach, for it knows them by a certain natural identity with them; its knowledge is not attained by besetting them, so to speak, but by in a definite degree possessing them; they are its natural vision; they are itself in a more radiant mode, and it rises from its duller pitch to that greater brilliance in a sort of awakening  , a progress from its latency to its act.

To the sense-order it stands in a similar nearness and to such things it gives a radiance out of its own store and, as it were, elaborates them to visibility: the power is always ripe and, so to say, in travail towards them, so that, whenever it puts out its strength in the direction of what has once been present in it, it sees that object as present still; and the more intent its effort the more durable is the presence. This is why, it is agreed, children have long memory; the things presented to them are not constantly withdrawn but remain in sight; in their case the attention is limited but not scattered: those whose faculty and mental   activity are busied upon a multitude of subjects pass quickly over all, lingering on none.

Now, if memory were a matter of seal-impressions retained, the multiplicity of objects would have no weakening effect on the memory. Further, on the same hypothesis, we would have no need of thinking back to revive remembrance; nor would we be subject to forgetting and recalling; all would lie engraved within.

The very fact that we train ourselves to remember shows that what we get by the process is a strengthening of the mind: just so, exercises for feet and hands enable us to do easily acts which in no sense contained or laid up in those members, but to which they may be fitted by persevering effort.

How else can it be explained that we forget a thing heard once or twice but remember what is often repeated, and that we recall a long time afterwards what at first hearing we failed to hold?

It is no answer to say that the parts present themselves sooner than the entire imprint - why should they too be forgotten? - [there is no question of parts, for] the last hearing, or our effort to remember, brings the thing back to us in a flash.

All these considerations testify to an evocation of that faculty of the soul, or mind, in which remembrance is vested: the mind is strengthened, either generally or to this particular purpose.

Observe these facts: memory follows upon attention; those who have memorized much, by dint of their training in the use of leading indications [suggestive words and the like], reach the point of being easily able to retain without such aid: must we not conclude that the basis of memory is the soul-power brought to full strength?

The lingering imprints of the other explanation would tell of weakness rather than power; for to take imprint easily is to be yielding. An impression is something received passively; the strongest memory, then, would go with the least active nature. But what happens is the very reverse: in no pursuit to technical exercises tend to make a man less the master of his acts and states. It is as with sense-perception; the advantage is not to the weak, the weak eye for example, but to that which has the fullest power towards its exercise. In the old, it is significant, the senses are dulled and so is the memory.

Sensation and memory, then, are not passivity but power.

And, once it is admitted that sensations are not impressions, the memory of a sensation cannot consist in the retention of an impression that was never made.

Yes: but if it is an active power of the mind, a fitness towards its particular purpose, why does it not come at once - and not with delay - to the recollection of its unchanging objects?

Simply because the power needs to be poised and prepared: in this it is only like all the others, which have to be readied for the task to which their power reaches, some operating very swiftly, others only after a certain self-concentration.

Quick memory does not in general go with quick wit: the two do not fall under the same mental faculty; runner and boxer are not often united in one person; the dominant idea   differs from man to man.

Yet there could be nothing to prevent men of superior faculty from reading impressions on the mind; why should one thus gifted be incapable of what would be no more than a passive taking and holding?

That memory is a power of the Soul [not a capacity for taking imprint] is established at a stroke by the consideration that the soul is without magnitude.

And - one general reflection - it is not extraordinary that everything concerning soul should proceed in quite other ways than appears to people who either have never enquired, or have hastily adopted delusive analogies from the phenomena of sense, and persist in thinking of perception and remembrance in terms of characters inscribed on plates or tablets; the impossibilities that beset this theory escape those that make the soul incorporeal equally with those to whom it is corporeal.