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- Feb 2021
The English physician and philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) was all too aware of the grip of amnesia and the shortness of memory. In his seminal Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689) he wrote of his rival Blaise Pascal, who he named as the “prodigy of parts”, who “forgot nothing of what he had done, read, or thought.” Locke, in reaction, attempted to simulate Pascal’s "hyperthymesia", not in the mind, but upon the page: through the construction of a system of "commonplacing", as a form of what Swift called “supplemental memory”.
Interesting use of hyperthymesia here. Also Swift using the concept of "supplemental memory" giving at least a historical mile marker of the state of mnemotechy which may have been known at the time.