Memory and Reason

“Memory is, as it were, the mind’s treasure chest, a sure and reliable place of safe-deposit for perceptions.  Reason, on its part, is that power of the soul which examines and investigates things that make an impression on the senses or intellect.” John of Salisbury, Metalogicon, Book 1, Chap. 11, trans. Daniel D. McGarry (Philadelphia, 2009), p. 35.

This twelfth-century bishop and teacher imagined that memory was the mind’s treasure chest of perceptions.  If we accept this idea then we should have greater appreciation for the importance of education, especially, memorizing facts, events, and interpretations of those facts and events.  The next time someone tells me that “rote memorization” is not important for education, I may quote this passage to that person.  Simply put, our memory is the treasure chest from which reason draws the riches of knowledge in order to examine or investigate.

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