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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IX:
John of Damascus: Exposition of the Orthodox Faith.: Concerning Memory.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XX.—Concerning Memory.

The faculty of memory is the cause 1840 and storehouse of remembrance and recollection. For memory is a fantasy 1841 that is left behind of some sensation and thought 1842 manifesting itself in action; or the preservation 1843 of a sensation and thought 1844 . For the soul comprehends objects of sense through the organs of sense, that is to say, it perceives, and thence arises a notion: and similarly it comprehends the objects of thought through the mind, and thence arises a thought. It is then the preservation of the types of these notions and thoughts that is spoken of as memory.

Further, it is worthy of remark that the apprehension of matters of thought depends on learning, or natural process of thought, and not on sensation. For though objects of sense are retained in the memory by themselves, only such objects of thought are remembered as we have learned, and we have no memory of their essence.

Recollection is the name given to the recovery of some memory lost by forgetfulness. For forgetfulness is just loss of memory. The faculty of imagination 1845 then, having apprehended material objects through the senses, transmits this to the faculty of thought or reason (for they are both the same), and this after it has received and passed judgment on it, passes it on to the faculty of memory. Now the organ of memory is the posterior ventricle of the brain, which the Greeks call the παρεγκεφαλίς, and the vital spirit it contains.



Text, αἴτιον. R. 2930, ἀγγεῖον.




καὶ νοήσεως is wanting in some mss., nor is it found in Nemesius, who borrowed his description from Origen.


Text, σωτηρία. Variant, σωρεία, a heaping up, “coacervatio.” Faber has “confirmatio,” which is nearer σωτηρία, conservatio, which is found in Nemesius, &c.


Nemes., ch. 13.


τὸ φανταστικόν, the faculty of fantasy.

Next: Concerning Conception and Articulation.