We are so accustomed each to consider his past self as his own, that it is worth while to reflect how very largely it may be foreign. My own past is, in the first place, incompatible with my own present, quite as much as my present can be with another man’s. Their difference in time could not permit them both to be wholly the same, even if their two characters are taken as otherwise identical. But this agreement in character is at least not always found. And my past not only may differ so as to be almost indifferent, but I may regard it even with a feeling of hostility and hatred. It may be mine mainly in the sense of a persisting incumbrance, a compulsory appendage, joined in continuity and fastened by an inference. And that inference, not being abstract, falls short of demonstration.
My past of yesterday is constructed by a redintegration from the present. Let us call the present X (B-C), with an ideal association x (a-b). The reproduction of this association, and its synthesis with the present, so as to form X (a-B-C), is what we call memory. And the justification of the process consists in the identity of x with X. But it is a serious step not simply to qualify my present self, but actually to set up another self at the distance of an interval. I so insist on the identity that I ride upon it to a difference, just as, before, the identity of our bodies carried me to the soul of a different man. And it is obvious, once more here, that the identity is incomplete. The association does not contain all that now qualifies X; x is different from X, and b is different from B. And again, the passage, through this defective identity to another concrete fact, may to some extent be vitiated by unknown interfering conditions. Hence I cannot prove that the yester-
- For the sake of simplicity I have omitted the process of correcting memory. This is of course effected by the attempt to get a coherent view of the past, and by the rejection of everything which cannot be included.