The second experiential transformation is the turn from implicit memory to explicit remembrance or reproductive imagination.

From implicit memory

While implicit memory is a natural ability common in the animal kingdom, explicit memory, or imagination, is a cultural achievement and a new experience. Implicit memory enables an animal, for example, to instinctively find its way to the watering hole. Explicit remembrance enables us to imagine the way to the water before we go there. In this turn, too, the intervention of consciousness is crucial. Here, too, a decoupling occurs: the memory of a route appears in the light of consciousness, so that we decide whether we want to follow this route or rather another one.

to explicit remembrance

By transforming implicit memory into explicit remembrance, humans gradually acquired a new ability. We can detect the first traces of an effective use of the imagination during the Upper Paleolithic. At that time, complex tools started to require foresighted planning. This imaginative ability developed latest with the advent of flint technology.

Before you can make flint tools, you must first find flint, dig it up and prepare it for processing. You have to imagine from which blanks you can make what kind of tools. Between the desire to use tools, for example in hunting, and the execution of this impulse, there is an intermediate step: the deliberate production of tools.

and symbolic practice

At some point, this new, imaginative talent ceased to be used for tool making only. Now humans began to produce symbolic artifacts and works of art. While tools impact on things, symbols impact on the imagination. This new symbolic practice began with Homo erectus and Homo Heidelbergensis. It reached its peak with the art of Homo sapiens.

We can trace its development by means of symbolic artifacts and works of art. Similar to the production of tools, special method and institutions emerged to organize this process. Paleolithic cave paintings are an excellent example of this process.


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