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The complex act of projecting oneself into the future

Authors

  • Stanley B. Klein

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, USA
    • Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, USA
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Abstract

Research on future-oriented mental time travel (FMTT) is highly active yet somewhat unruly. I believe this is due, in large part, to the complexity of both the tasks used to test FMTT and the concepts involved. Extraordinary care is a necessity when grappling with such complex and perplexing metaphysical constructs as self and time and their co-instantiation in memory. In this review, I first discuss the relation between future mental time travel and types of memory (episodic and semantic). I then examine the nature of both the types of self-knowledge assumed to be projected into the future and the types of temporalities that constitute projective temporal experience. Finally, I argue that a person lacking episodic memory should nonetheless be able to imagine a personal future by virtue of (1) the fact that semantic, as well as episodic, memory can be self-referential, (2) autonoetic awareness is not a prerequisite for FMTT, and (3) semantic memory does, in fact, enable certain forms of personally oriented FMTT. WIREs Cogn Sci 2013, 4:63–79. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1210

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