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Section 28

28. Is memory vested in the faculty by which we perceive and learn? Or does it reside in the faculty by which we set things before our minds as objects of desire or of anger, the passionate faculty?

This will be maintained on the ground that there could scarcely be both a first faculty in direct action and a second to remember what that first experiences. It is certain that the desiring faculty is apt to be stirred by what it has once enjoyed; the object presents itself again; evidently, memory is at work; why else, the same object with the same attraction?

But, at that, we might reasonably ascribe to the desiring faculty the very perception of the desired objects and then the desire itself to the perceptive faculty, and so on all through, and in the end conclude that the distinctive names merely indicate the function which happens to be uppermost.

Yet the perception is very different from faculty to faculty; certainly it is sight and not desire that sees the object; desire is stirred merely as a result of the seeing, by a transmission; its act is not in the nature of an identification of an object seen; all is simply blind response [automatic reaction]. Similarly with rage; sight reveals the offender and the passion leaps; we may think of a shepherd seeing a wolf at his flock, and a dog, seeing nothing, who springs to the scent or the sound.

In other words the desiring faculty has had the emotion, but the trace it keeps of the event is not a memory; it is a condition, something passively accepted: there is another faculty that was aware of the enjoyment and retains the memory of what has happened. This is confirmed by the fact that many satisfactions which the desiring faculty has enjoyed are not retained in the memory: if memory resided in the desiring faculty, such forgetfulness could not be.

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