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Koestler, Arthur - Janus - The unreliability of memory



Type of Spiritual Experience


In this extract Koestler is describing how flawed a process learning is and thus how unreliable so called knowledge and memory is.

A description of the experience

Arthur Koestler - Janus

If we pursue for a moment the metaphor of the library representing our  [memory], we arrive at rather depressing conclusions. 

Quite apart from the countless volumes that are left to rot away or fall to dust, there is a hierarchy of librarians at work who ruthlessly condense long texts into short abstracts and then make abstracts into abstracts. 

This process of sifting and abstracting actually starts long before a lived experience is confined to [the knowledge base]. 

At every relay station …. through which sensory input must pass before being admitted to consciousness, it is analysed, classified and stripped of 'irrelevant detail' …. even the chosen few among the multitude of potential stimuli …. which have successfully passed all these selective filters and have attained the status of consciously perceived events, must submit …. to further rigorous stripping procedures before being admitted to the permanent knowledge base. 

Knowledge is a prized example of the law of diminishing return.

The source of the experience

Koestler, Arthur

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps