This paper argues that episodic thoughts (judgments, decisions, and so forth) are always unconscious. Whether consciousness is understood in terms of global broadcasting/widespread accessibility or in terms of non-interpretive higher-order awareness, the conclusion is the same: there is no such thing as conscious thought. Arguments for this conclusion are reviewed. The challenge of explaining why we should all be under the illusion that our thoughts are often conscious is then taken up.
Purpose of this paper – From the radical constructivist point of view the mainstream conception of memory as an encoding-storage-retrieval device is considered questionable. The paper aims at an alternative perspective on memory and its interaction with cognition. Design/methodology/approach – The argumentation is based on various experimental data such as cognitive problem-solving, change blindness, and childhood amnesia. Theoretical insights of the radical constructivist epistemology developed by Heinz von Foerster and others contribute as well. Findings: Describing memory as storage-retrieval device separated from cognition is rejected. Rather, memory is the expression of a static snapshot of otherwise dynamical cognitive processes. As an embodied network of constructive components, the evolutionary evolved cognition-memory compound is not geared toward reproducing “true” facts. Rather, its goal is to produce structure that maintains coherence with the rest of the network. Research limitations/implications – Memory research should not judge recognition in terms of “correct” or “false” but rather reassess its performance in terms of the super-ordinate cognitive faculty. Practical implications: The results imply that the role of memory should be reconsidered both in memory research as well as in practical areas such as psychotherapy and law. Originality/value – The new characterization of memory rejects the narrow computational theory of mind. It provides a better account for memory distortion phenomena such as false recognition, intrusion, and confabulation.