This section displays Aristotle’s psychology at its best, because he is here able to argue logically from facts of common experience, and is not unduly handicapped by the limitations of his physical theories. Moreover, his powers of analysis give him for once (in examining the process of recollection) a distinct advantage over Plato.

Memory is an affection of the common sense-faculty, which (being discriminative of time) can distinguish between fresh images of sensation or thought and the impressed images persisting from previous experiences. It can also (though it does not always) relate these impressed images to the experiences which produced them; its capacity for doing this depends upon the “depth” of the original impression, which varies with the circumstances and age of the percipient subject.

The theory of Recollection is chiefly notable for the clear grasp which it shows (1) of the general principle of the association of ideas, and of the distinction between natural and habitual association, and (2) of the twofold nature of the process as something set up by a deliberate mental act in a corporeal substrate, so that the train of thought, once started, may continue automatically without any further conscious effort.

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.aristotle-parva_naturalia_memory_recollection.1957