Philosophy of Dreams and Sleeping - Helsingin yliopisto

Philosophy of Dreams and Sleeping - Helsingin yliopisto

PHILOSOPHY OF DREAMS AND SLEEPING Markku Roinila Dear participants, We are going to discuss what dreams are, how contemporary psychology explains them, what are the philosophical questions concerning dreams, how philosophers in the past have discussed these questions and finally, how contemporary philosophy can provide an alternative to the physiological approach to dreaming. The lectures will take place on Wednesdays 10-12 U40 lh 12 and Thursdays 10-12 U40 lh 8.

The locations may change due to the number of participants. Ill keep you posted. Preliminary program 30. 10. Introduction to dreams, practicalities 31. 10. Physiological matters; history of dream sciences and contemporary dream science; Reading Malcolm: Temporal Location and Duration of Dreams, in Dreaming, pp. 70-82 6. 11. Philosophy and dreams; dreams of philosophers: Reading Leibnizs Philosophical Dream ( 7. 11. Philosophical questions of dreams and sleeping 13. 11. Ancient views on dreaming; Reading ? 14. 11. Cont.; medieval philosophy of dreaming 20. 11. Descartes and Hobbes on dreaming; Reading Descartes, 6th Meditation 21. 11. Some other Early modern views (Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke); Reading Leibniz: Fragment on dreams 27. 11. 18th and 19th century philosophy of dreaming (Kant, Voltaire, Bergson etc.) 28. 11. Contemporary philosophical views on dreaming (Wittgenstein, Malcolm and

his critics); Reading Malcolm: Judgements in sleep, in Dreaming, pp. 35-44 4. 12. Cont. (Flanagan, Dennett, Revonsuo, Sutton, Phenomenology etc.); Reading ? 5. 12. Cont. 11. 12. General discussion: Dream Science & The future of philosophy of dreams; Reading John Sutton: Dreaming ( 12. 12. Course examination Study points As you can see, Ive added some reading to some dates (more to come). I thought to ask you to read one short paper each week which we can discuss. In addition, there is a compulsory reading for the whole course which is Norman Malcom: Dreaming, a short collection of papers on dreaming. Some of the weekly readings are from that book. To gain 3 study points you should attend lectures, read the texts and discuss them and read Malcolms book. The course examination is 12. 12. If you cannot make it, it is possible to participate general examination of the Faculty in January.

Alternatively, you can write an essay of ten pages concerning the philosophy of dreams (a theme discussed in the lecture course) to gain the study points. Reading material As there are only two copies of Malcolms book available in libraries, I will upload it to Moodle where you can also find other material to the course and slides I have used. In addition, there is news and hopefully discussion of dreams and sleeping. I would like to ask you to enroll yourself to the course. The address for the Moodle course area is¬ifyeditingon=1 Alternatively, you can go to and find the course under category Arts>Dreaming (or One you do the self-enrolment, the key to the course is Dreaming. For information, see In case you cannot enroll yourself or you have any other problems or

questions concerning the course, please write to mroinila (at) I have added a bibliography on dreaming to Moodle. What is a dream? Dreams are successions of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations that occur involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep. (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. 2000). David Foulkes: Dreaming is the awareness of being in an imagined world in which things happen. Mental activity occurring in sleep characterized by vivid sensorimotor imagery that is experienced as waking reality despite such distinctive cognitive features as impossibility or improbability of time, place, person and actions; emotions, especially fear,

elation, and anger predominate over sadness, shame and guilt and sometimes reach sufficient strength to cause awakening; memory for even very vivid dreams is evanescent and tends to fade quickly upon awakening unless special steps are taken to retain it. (J. Allan Hobson) I am accustomed to sleep and in my dreams to imagine the same things that lunatics imagine when awake. (Ren Descartes) Some characteristics of dreams They are different from waking experience, have a logic of their own If we are awake, we usually remember fairly accurately places, times and people. In dreams it is typical that we accept things which would seem peculiar to us in our waking state.

For example, the time goes very slowly or very quickly in dreams, the people we know look different from what they are, the places can be familiar but strange and there may be connexion of things which usually are not in one place at the same time. Things merge into each other in a way which nver happens when we are awake. A more scientific list: loss of awareness of self, loss of orientational stability, loss of directed thought, reduction in logical reasoning, poor memory within and after the dream. Questions about dreams Hobson: Dreaming. A Very Short Introduction. 1) Why is dreaming so rarely self-reflective, when waking consciousness is so often the opposite? 2) Why is almost all dreaming forgotten? 3) Why are dreams so bizarre? All of these question can, and have, been treated by both psychologists (old and contemporary) and philosophers (especially

question no. 2 & 3). In this course I will discuss both approaches with emphasis on philosophy. Hall analysis of dream content Calvin Hall and Van De Castle published The Content Analysis of Dreams in 1966 in which they outlined a coding system to study 1,000 dream reports from college students. It was found that people all over the world dream of mostly the same things. The following characteristics can be distinguished: Visuals The visual nature of dreams is generally highly phantasmagoric; that is, different locations and objects continuously blend into each other. The visuals (including locations, characters/people, objects/artifacts) are generally reflective of a person's memories and experiences, but often take on highly exaggerated and bizarre forms. People who are blind from birth do not have visual dreams. Their dream contents are related to other senses like auditory, touch, smell and taste, whichever are present since birth. Emotions The most common emotion experienced in dreams is anxiety. Other emotions include abandonment, anger, fear, joy, and happiness. Negative emotions are much more common than positive ones.

Sexual themes The Hall data analysis shows that sexual dreams occur no more than 10% of the time and are more prevalent in young to mid-teens. Another study showed that 8% of men's and women's dreams have sexual content. In some cases, sexual dreams may result in orgasms or nocturnal emissions. These are colloquially known as wet dreams. Color vs. black and white A small minority of people say that they dream only in black and white. A 2008 study by a researcher at the University of Dundee found that people who were only exposed to black and white television and film in childhood reported dreaming in black and white about 25% of the time. Different kind of dreams There are several kinds of dreams. For example: Frightening Exciting Magical Melancholic Adventurous Sexual Lucid

All except lucid dreaming is independent from the control of the dreamer. Dreams vs. delusions & hallucinations Essential condition to dreaming is that one is sleeping. Although there may be bizarre or strange dreams, they are not delusions or hallucinations because they disappear once we are awake. Thus one cannot cause ones dreams they are involuntary except lucid dreaming when we are aware that we are dreaming. However, delusions or hallucinations can reminds us of dreams as they are similarly illlogical and seem to

be independent of reality. A light version of this is daydreaming which is visionary fantasy, especially one of happy, pleasant thoughts, hopes or ambitions, experienced while awake. Some facts The scientific study of dreams is called oneirology. It is likely that all mammals dream. Dreams can last from a few seconds up to 20 minutes. An average person has 3-5 dreams per night some can have 7

dreams during one night. Other dream-related phenomena Incorporation of reality A sound heard (for example, phone ringing) when sleeping can become a part of a dream the brains incorporates it the stimulus to the dream in order to continue the sleeping state. The same happens if we wet the bet and we dream of urination. This can be developed, however. We can be trained to be awaken if we are in danger or hear a baby crying. This also happens when the events during the day or even a week before can become part of the dream. Predictive dreams It is common that people feel that they can predict future events in dreams. This is usually explained by selective and distorted memory. When in an experiment men were asked to write down their dreams, it became clear that they did not predict future at all.

Other dream-related phenomena Lucid dreaming is the conscious perception of one's state while dreaming. In this state the dreamer may often (but not always) have some degree of control over their own actions within the dream or even the characters and the environment of the dream. Dream control has been reported to improve with practiced deliberate lucid dreaming, but the ability to control aspects of the dream is not necessary for a dream to qualify as "lucid" a lucid dream is any dream during which the dreamer knows they are dreaming.The occurrence of lucid dreaming has been scientifically verified. Lucid dreaming is hold important among Tibetan Buddhist monks who use it for visiting places, communicationg with Yidam or enlightened being, flying etc. DAMT or Dreams of absent-minded transgression. These are dreams wherein the dreamer absentmindedly performs an action that he or she has been trying to stop. For example, quitting smokers have dreams of lightning a cigarette.

Some early history of the dreams As dreams are part of the life of everybody, they have interested men from the very beginning. Most of the history men have been interested in the interpretation of dreams. There are evidence of Sumerians in Mesopotamia recording of dreams from 3100 BC. These show that Gods and kings paid close attention to dreams. Mesopotamians belived that the soul, or part of it, moves out from the body of the sleeping person and visits the places and persons the dreamer sees in their sleep. Sometimes the God of dreams is said to carry the dreamer. This picture is familiar from films as we will see later.

Babylonians and assurians thought that good dreams are sent by Gods and bad dreams by demons. Dreams are thought to be omens and prophecies. Early History of Dreams Egyptians wrote down their dreams to papyrus and thought people with vivid dreams special and significant persons. Dreams were thought to be as kind of oracles, bringing messages from Gods. Dreams were a source of divine revelation and for this reason egyptians tried to induce dreams by sleeping on special dream beds in sanctuaries. When a person was having troubles in their life and wanted help from their god, they would sleep in a temple, when they would wake the next morning a priest, which was then called a Master of the Secret Things, would be consulted for the interpretations of that night's dreams. In Chinese culture, as in Babylonia, men were thought to leave their body when dreaming Indian classic text Upanishads (900-500 BC) emphasizes two

meaning on dreams. The first is that dreams are merely expressions of inner desires. The second is the belief of the soul leaving the body and being guided until awakened. Early History of Dreams In Greek culture conception of dreams was similar to the Egyptians they tried to induce dreams which were seen as messages from Gods. Dreams also aided in their practice of medicine, sending sick people to particular temples in those places where the "gods of the body" had their shrines. The ailing Greeks would visit these temples, perform various religious rites, sleep, and hope to have a dream that assured a return to good health. The God of dreams was Morpheus who

sent warnings and prophecies to those who slept at shrines and temples. In very early Greek thought the Gods were thought to visit the sleepers, entering through keyhole. Early History of Dreams Antiphon wrote the first book on dreams in the 5th century BC. He argued that the soul leaves the sleeping body. Hippocrates thought that during the day the soul receives images; during the night, it produces images.

Early History of Dreams In Judaism dreams are discussed in Talmud and they were thought to be part of the experience of the world which can be interpreted. Dreams were connected heavily to the religion: dreams were thought to be the voice of God. Good dreams come from God and bad dreams from evil spirits. Similarly to Egyptians and Greeks, men tried to induce revelatory dreams. Christians followed the Hebrews: dreams are a supernatural element because the Old Testament has many stories of dreams with divine inspiration. In Islam dreams play an important part in the history of Islam. Interpretating dreams is the only way Muslims can receive revelations from God after the death of the last Prophet Muhammed. Mohammed himself received" much of the text of the Koran from a dream he had, as well as interpreting dreams of his disciples. Early History of Dreams

In America some tribes and Mexican civilizations believed that dreams are a way of visiting and having a contact with their ancestors. They used rites of passage, fasting and praying to incude such dreams and shared them with the other tribe after waking up. Meanwhile in Europe, in Middle Ages dreams were seen as evil, and the images as temptations from the devil. Many believed that during sleep, the devil could fill the human mind with corrupting and harmful thought. Luther continued this tradition. However, some catholics such as St. Augustine argued that the direction of their

lives was affected by dreams. Dreams in 19th century In the beginning of 19th century along with the romantic movement dreams became fashionable. Comtes positivism also encouraged the study of dreams. Robert Cross Smith was one of the first to start this "dream craze" under the pen name "Raphael. He published a popular book called The Royal Book of Dreams. French doctor Alfred Maury studied over 3,000 different dreams. He believed that external stimuli is the catalyst to all of our dreams. Soon this theory was overcome by Freud who called dreams as royal road to the unconscious. His theory was that although dreams may be prompted by external stimuli, wish-fulfillment was the root behind most of our dreams. Freud's idea was that our dreams were reflection of our deepest desires, especially sexual ones, going back to our childhood. To Freud, no dream was of entertainment value, they all held important meanings. Jung disagreed on the theory that erotic content was the basis behind most of our dreams. Jung believed that dreams reminded us of our wishes, which enables us to realize the things we unconsciously yearn for, and helps us to fulfill our own wishes. These dreams were messages, Jung believed, from ourselves to ourselves and

that we should pay attention to them for our own benefit. Thus from the idea that dreams are Gods messages they turn to internal messages. Dreams present the dreamer with revelations that can uncover and help to resolve emotional or religious problems or fears. Of special interest are recurring dreams. Representation of dreams Dream documentation has been and still is an important activity of mankind. Dreams have also been inspiration for artistic work. I will return to the interpretation of dreams later now let us discuss a little of representations of dreams in various art forms.

The God, uneasy 'till he slept again, Resolv'd at once to rid himself of pain; And, tho' against his custom, call'd aloud, Exciting Morpheus from the sleepy crowd: Morpheus, of all his numerous train, express'd The shape of man, and imitated best; The walk, the words, the gesture could supply, The habit mimick, and the mein bely; Plays well, but all his action is confin'd, Extending not beyond our human kind. Another, birds, and beasts, and dragons apes, And dreadful images, and monster shapes: This demon, Icelos, in Heav'n's high

hall The Gods have nam'd; but men Phobetor call. A third is Phantasus, whose actions roul Myths & dreams In Greek mythology the God of dreams is Hypnos, later Hermes was the one who brought dreams. Hypnos is presented as a benevolent God. In Roman mythology Morpheus is a God of dreams who appears in Ovid's Metamorphoses, book XI. Morpheus has the ability to take any human form and appear in dreams. His true semblance is that of a winged daemon, imagery shared with many of his

siblings. Starting in the medieval period, the name Morpheus began to stand generally for the god of dreams or of sleep. On meaner thoughts, and things devoid of soul; Earth, fruits, and flow'rs he represents in dreams, And solid rocks unmov'd, and running streams. Dreams in litterature Homer, in his Iliad, describes a scene wherein Agamemnon receives instructions from the messenger of Zeus in a dream. Genesis dream places (Gen 20:3 writes, God came to Abimelech in a dream by night); divine messages (Through a dream, Jacob first received the divine covenant and promises directly from God about him and his offspring (Gen 28:1315)); revelation (God reveals Gods will to Abimelech, Jacob, and Laban through dreams (Gen 20:3-7, 28:12-15, 31:11-16, 31:24); Gods intervention into the world

(The dream of Abimelech and Laban (Gen 20:3-7, 31:22-29) clearly show Gods proactive action and protection through dreams for Gods people) etc. Nebuchadnezzer, the King of Babylon who died in 562 BC, had an interesting dream reported in the Book of Daniel. It was in this dream that he dreamed of a beautiful tree with green foliage that the birds nested in and beasts took shelter underneath. But one day a messenger from Heaven ordered the tree to be cut down and the King to be chained to the stump. The King was left alone to feed on the grass as a beast would. Nebuchadnezzer summoned Daniel, an expert on dreams, who told him that the tree represented the King's power and glory. When it was cut down he became nothing but a beast, living off the grass. Daniel explained that this dream was to teach him to acknowledge the heavenly power above him in the same way as he was above the beasts in the field. The dream was, as it turned out, thought to be prophetic. Dreams in litterature In Medieval times dream frame was frequently used in allegories to justify the narrative one of the most famous of

these is the Vision concerning Piers Plowman. The sama idea had been used already by Cicero earlier. In this litterary device a dream or vision is recounted as having revealed knowledge or a truth not available to the dreamer or visionary in a normal waking state. In both its ancient and medieval form, the dream vision is often felt to be of divine origin. The genre reemerges in the era of Romanticism, when dreams were regarded as creative gateways to imaginative possibilities beyond rational calculation. This genre typically follows a structure whereby a narrator recounts his experience of falling asleep, dreaming, and waking, and the story is often an allegory. The dream-vision convention was widely used in European literature from late Latin

times until the 15th century. Dreams in litterature Lewis Carroll: Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass Remarkable in these is that the logic of the story is dream-like with transitions and flexible causality. But I dont want to go among mad people," Alice remarked. "Oh, you cant help that," said the Cat: "were all mad here. Im mad. Youre mad." "How do you know Im mad?" said Alice. "You must be," said the Cat, or you wouldnt have come here. Lewis Carroll, Alice in

Wonderland Dreams in litterature In modern science fiction/phantasy litterature dreams have been a popular topos. H. P. Lovecraft: Dream Cycle and The Neverending Story include places like the desert of lost dreams, the sea of possibilities. Philip K. Dick: The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch; Ubik. Ursula K. Le Guin: The Lathe of Heaven Dreams in litterature

Jorge Luis Borges: The Circular Ruins Shakespeare: A Midsummer Nights dream // characters change to other and even into animals. Shakespeare: Macbeth (sleepwalking); Richard III (anxiety dream) Homer: Iliad In classic Russian novels there are vivid descriptions of nightmares: As dreaming returned, for example, in Tolstoy's War and Peace and Anna Karenina as well as Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov. Other novels: Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain, August Strindberg's A Dream Play and The Ghost Sonata, Franz Kafka's The Trial and The Castle, and James Joyce's Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake. Dreams in music Many classical composers have reported having inspired by dreams. For example, On February 17,

1854, a choir of angels sang to Robert Schumann as he slept. In the middle of the night he woke from the dream and rushed to his desk to write down what he had heard. The angels ethereal music would become the basis of his Ghost Variations, a work which seems to wander between waking and dreaming states. Other composers include Anton Bruckner, Wagner and Stravinsky (Rite of Spring). In later 60s psychedelic rock dreams were a common theme. The music was dream-like, reflecting not only dreams, but also psychedelic drugs. For example, http:// Bob Dylan introduced a surrealist/psychedelic style of lyrics in various dream-named songs where the logic is dream-like, for example in his Bob Dylans #115th Dream includes lines like this: I went into a restaurant Lookin for the cook I told them I was the editor Of a famous etiquette book The waitress he was handsome He wore a powder blue cape I ordered some suzette, I said Could you please make that crepe Just then the whole kitchen exploded From boilin fat

Food was flying everywhere And I left without my hat Pictorial representations In art dreams have been a popular theme. The bizarre qualities have been popular and especially nightmares have inspired many artists Sometimes the catholic/lutheran doctrine of dreams as the work of the devil are related to paintings of nightmares, especially in the work of Goya and Hieronymus Bosch

Some examples Goya: The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters Dal: Dream caused by the flight of a bee around a pomegranate a second before awakening Some examples Picasso: La rve Bosch: The garden of earthy delights Dream sequences in films In films, dreams are often presented in the Freudian sense, as expressions of the dreamers deepest wishes, fears or desires. Hitchcocks films are

good examples of this. Alfred Hitchcock: Spellbound (dream sequence designed by Salvador Dali): ?v=dzxlbgPkxHE Alfred Hitchcock: Vertigo: tigo-movie-scotties-nightmare/ Dream sequences in films Sometimes dreams in films are just wild ride of imagination with some occurring themes (such as sexual wishes). For example, Fellini: 8 mEqBdde5H0

Dream Sequences in films Anxiety and stress can also be represented in films. In Keatons film lucid dreaming is represented. In horror movies the content of nightmares is presented as part of the film without us knowing whether it is a dream or not. The attack of dark forces can be dream-like. Compare Carrie, Friday the 13th and An American Werewolf in London. Trumbo: Johnny Got His Gun eature=player_embedded&v=OTH DvhKyS6o#t=15 Buster Keaton: Sherlock Jr.

H8zMV0-NMug More dreams in films Kurosawa: Dreams David Lynch: most of his films Kubrick: Shining Nolan: Inception Disney: Fantasia Gondry: Eternal sunshine of a spotless mind Tarkovsky: Stalker Fellini: City of women, Casanova Andy Warhol: Sleep Joel and Ethan Coen: The Big Lebowski Huston: Freud Wachowski bros: Matrix Bergman: Smulltronstllet Weir: The Last Wave Several films of Jean Cocteau Dwarfs & dreams

More examples of dreams in popular culture Cartoons: Neil Gaiman: Sandman Dreams can be part of video games. Mario & Luigi: Dream Team (Nintendo) follows an adventure through Luigis dreams. Music videos:Foo Fighters: Everlong (https://; Bjrk: Hyperballad (Michel Gondry) (https://; Metallica: Enter Sandman (; Chemical Brothers: Let forever be (https:// Nightmares are especially popular in music videos. For example, Michael Jackson: Thriller (https://; Venom:Nightmare (; Alice Cooper: Welcome to My Nightmare (http://

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