The person who has lost his or her memories will have no regrets, then how would he learn the lessons of life?

I have asked the same question in Psychology and Neuroscience SE as well. What I am looking for in this community is- regret plays important role in paying the outcomes of our deeds, if one has lost the memories he is free from the guilt and regrets. Is there any aspect I am missing? My knowledge of Psychology and Neuroscience is limited.

closed as off-topic by Conifold, Frank Hubeny, Swami Vishwananda, Mark Andrews, Eliran Sep 19 at 4:54

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  • "While this question may be related to philosophy or occur in a philosophical context, the question itself doesn't seem to be about philosophy, and is therefore not a good fit for our site." – Conifold, Frank Hubeny, Swami Vishwananda, Mark Andrews, Eliran
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  • Hello - I have revised your text. I think this will help readers. If you disagree with my changes, you are free to restore the original text. – Geoffrey Thomas Sep 15 at 20:32
  • 1
    "Learning the lessons" is often unconscious (and need not be accompanied by regret), and changes to personality it produces are usually unaffected by memory loss (say, if having a bad romantic relationship makes one more selective that will likely remain even if the person gets amnesia). But how is this a question about philosophy rather than psychology, for which Psychology and Neuroscience SE is more suitable? – Conifold Sep 15 at 21:36
  • @Conifold I have asked the same question in Psychology and Neuroscience SE as well. What I am looking for in this community is- regret plays important role in paying the outcomes of our deeds, if one has lost the memories he is free from the guilt and regrets. Is there any aspect I am missing? My knowledge of Psychology and Neuroscience is limited. – Jayant Sep 16 at 2:06
  • The way neural nets work is different from a computer where memory is separately stored. Every event alters the entire net, however slightly. Loss of memory will not return the net to the state before the memory was formed. How it manifests depends on the nature of memory loss, it is quite possible that guilt and regret remain even as their cause is forgotten. This happens routinely even without amnesia. But even if not, personality remains altered in some way. – Conifold Sep 16 at 20:51

I regret a decision or an action if a different decision or action would have led (by my own standards) to a better outcome - where this outcome is known to me or believed by me. 'Better' here includes both positively better (as in gaining things I want, fulfilling my preferences) and 'less bad' (as in less harmful to myself or others).

  1. If I lose my memory at time t2, I cannot 'directly' regret what I did at time t1, since I can't remember it, and so I cannot at t2 learn from my previous mistakes. That's generally right but the claim needs to be hedged by the fact that if I experienced regret at t1 this could have taught me a lesson which, absorbed into my consciousness at t1, remains a part of my stance to life at t2 even though the experience is not remembered.

  2. If I lose my memory at time t2, I can still be reliably informed what I did at t1 and earlier. If I accept this information as reliable, I can regret what I believe (correctly) I did at t1 and earlier and hence experience regret and learn from my previous mistakes even though, ex hypothesi, I do not remember them.

  3. If all this fails, then as long as I can remember decisions or actions from t2 onwards, I can (from t2 onwards) make mistakes, regret them, and learn from them.

  4. There are other ways of learning the lessons of life or gaining the benefits of experience than by regretting one's mistakes. One can learn from the knowledge and wisdom of others. A parallel : if I am acquiring a skill I can regret my mistakes and learn from them but I can also learn from observing a skilful practitioner at work.

If a person has lost memories, rather than the capability to have memories, he will experience only a temporary loss of regret. As he makes "bad" decisions, he will soon return to "normal."

If the brain has been damaged to the point that no new memories are retained, then it will be a permanent loss of regret and its attendant benefit of learning from the lessons of life.

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