The observation is one of the most replicable in the literature: Whether tested in 1893 or 1999 (West & Bauer, 1999), among adults in Western cultures, the average age of earliest memory is age 3 to 3½ years. (from the APA Online)
Four- and three-year-olds can readily recall events from their second year. Yet, by the age of ten these earliest memories have receded behind what's been dubbed the "reminiscence bump." (from some recent Canadian research)
Add to this the sense that, without my memories, I would cease to be really me, and I find myself in a philosophical predicament. My daughter, Kaia, is unlikely to consciously remember anything that happens in the next two years. By the time she's ten, she'll probably have the adult "reminiscence bump" - no conscious memories before three years old.
What does this mean for her identity? Will ten-year-old Kaia be a literally different person from the Kaia I see today? Or am I wrong that my memories are key to my identity?
Perhaps - probably - there is a sensible compromise that will make sense of both the inescapable certainty that the baby is the same person as the teenager and adult, and of the intuition that our memories are a key to our identity.
But I haven't worked it out yet. For now, let me know what you think. How do you resolve this conundrum?