Many people use the words memory, recollection, and remembrance as synonyms, but there is a great difference between the exact meanings of each term.
Meaning As Per Fuller
As per Fuller memory is the power of reproducing in the mind former impressions, or percepts. Recollection and Remembrance are the exercise of that power, the former being volitional, the latter involuntary or spontaneous.
We remember because it is only through the positive effort we recollect. The act of remembering, taken by itself, is involuntary. In other words, when the mind remembers without having tried to remember, it acts spontaneously.
Thus it may be said, in the narrow, contrasted senses of the two terms that we remember by chance, but recollect by intention, and if the attempt be successful that which is reproduced becomes, by the very effort to bring it forth, more firmly entrenched in the mind than ever.”
Meaning As Per Locke
The difference between the meanings of these words is clearly mentioned by Locke in his celebrated work, the “Essay Concerning Human Understanding”. As per Locke memory is the power to revive again in our minds those thoughts, which after imprinting, have disappeared, or have been laid aside out of sight.
Remembrance is that when a thought again reappears without the operation of the like object on the external sensory. And finally recollection is that if the thought be adored by the mind, and with pain and attempt found, and brought again into view.
Meaning As Per The New Psychology
The meaning given by the New Psychology is somewhat different from the meaning given by Locke and Fuller. It uses the word memory not only in his sense of “The power to revive, etc.,” but also in the sense of the actions of the mind which tend to receive and store away the various sense impressions.
And the ideas conceived by the mind, to the end that they may be reproduced voluntarily, or involuntarily, thereafter. The New Psychology, as made by Locke, adopts the distinction between remembrance and recollection, as correct.
Through the intelligent exercise, the memory in all its phases is competent of development, training, culture, and guidance. Like any other faculty of mind, or physical part, muscle or limb, it may be improved and strengthened.
But until recent years, the entire efforts of these memory-developers were directed to the intensification of that phase of the memory known as “recollection,” which, you will remember, Locke defined as an thought or impression “sought after by the mind, and with pain and endeavor found, and brought again into view.”
Where as the New Psychology had gone much further than the Locke. While pointing out the most enhanced and technical methods for “recollecting” the impressions and ideas of the memory, it also instructs the student in the use of the proper methods whereby the memory may be stored with clear and distinct impressions.
This will, thereafter, flow naturally and involuntarily into the field of consciousness when the mind is thinking upon the connected subject or line of thought; and which may also be “re-collected” by a voluntary effort with far less expenditure of energy than under the old methods and systems.
You will see this idea carried out in detail, as we progress with the various phases of the subject, in this work. You will see that to find something to remember is the first thing to do, after that to impress that thing clearly and definitely upon the accessible tab-lots of the memory
After that to bring out the stored-away facts of the memory; then to acquire the scientific methods of recollecting special items of memory that may be necessary at some special time.
As opposed to the artificial systems in memory cultivation, this is the natural method. It is not only development of the memory, but also development of the mind power itself in several of its regions and stages of activity.
It is not merely a method of recollecting, but also a method of correct seeing, thinking and remembering. This method identifies the truth of the poetry of the poet, Pope, who said: “Remembrance and reflection how allied! What thin partitions sense from thought divides!”