The article considers the problem of images and the role they play in our reflection turning to evidence provided by two seemingly very distant theories of mind together with two sorts of corresponding visions: dreams as analyzed by Freud who claimed that they are pictures of our thoughts, and their mechanical counterparts produced by neural networks designed for object recognition and classification. Freud’s theory of dreams has largely been ignored by philosophers interested in cognition, most of whom focused solely on (...) the linguistic incarnation of thoughts, but even though commonly neglected by respectable theories of thinking, dream images may prove to be the key to the black box of thought. As argued in this article, when seen from the right perspective and approached with the right set of questions, oneiric visions yield groundbreaking insights into the mechanism of how concepts and judgments are formed. Support for this conclusion comes from a tradition seemingly remote, if not opposed to psychoanalysis: the mechanical model of the mind conceived by information sciences and embodied in the form of artificial neural nets which mirror the activity of human visual cortex producing visions strikingly similar to those created by the sleeping mind. These purely mechanical, artificial ‘dreams’ constitute byproducts of algorithms designed for object recognition and classification, which, as I shall argue, reveals the true purpose of our own oneiric visual formations. Just like their mechanical counterparts produced by neural networks, condensations and displacements encountered in dreams are in fact visual universals. (shrink)
The problem of dream skepticism – i.e., the problem of what can justify one’s belief that they are not dreaming – is one of the most famous problems in philosophy. I propose a way of responding to the problem which is available if one subscribes to the theory that the sensory experiences that we have in dreams consist of images (as opposed to false percepts). The response exploits a particular feature of imagination, viz., that it is not possible to simultaneously (...) have two separate imagistic experiences in the same modality. (shrink)
What’s presented in our normal waking perceptual visual experiences feels present to us, while what we “see” in pictures and imagine does not. What about dreams? Does what we “see” in a dream feel present? Jennifer Windt has argued for an affirmative answer, for all dreams. But the dreams which flow from the brain’s registration of myoclonic twitches present a challenge to this answer. During these dreams motion-guiding vision is shut off, and, as Mohan Matthen has argued, motion-guiding vision seems (...) to be a key mechanism underlying the feeling of presence. I propose that the feeling of presence in fact involves two components: the feeling of immersion, and the feeling of availability for action. I suggest that only the feeling of availability for action derives from motion-guiding vision, and, hence, hypothesize that body-driven dreams lack this component to the feeling of presence. Finally, the distinction between these two varieties of presence has implications for measures of presence in virtual environments, as these measures can diverge over which of the two varieties they track. (shrink)
When you hallucinate an object, you are not in the normal sort of concurrent causal sensory interaction with that object. It's standardly further inferred that the hallucinated object does not actually exist. But the lack of normal concurrent causal sensory interaction does not imply that there does not exist an object that is hallucinated. It might be a past‐perceived object. In this paper, I argue that this claim holds for at least some interesting cases of hallucination. Hallucinations generated by misleading (...) cues (e.g. ‘seeing’ Kanizsa triangles), hallucinations of Charles Bonnet Syndrome patients, and dreams are experiences of past‐perceived objects. (shrink)
We propose that rapid eye movement (REM) and slow-wave sleep contribute differently to the formation of episodic memories. REM sleep is important for building up invariant object representations that eventually recur to gamma-band oscillations in the neocortex. In contrast, slow-wave sleep is more directly involved in the consolidation of episodic memories through replay of sequential neural activity in hippocampal place cells.
The paper proposes a minimal definition of dreaming in terms of immersive spatiotemporal hallucination (ISTH) occurring in sleep or during sleep–wake transitions and under the assumption of reportability. I take these conditions to be both necessary and sufficient for dreaming to arise. While empirical research results may, in the future, allow for an extension of the concept of dreaming beyond sleep and possibly even independently of reportability, ISTH is part of any possible extension of this definition and thus is a (...) constitutive condition of dreaming. I also argue that the proposed ISTH model of dreaming, in conjunction with considerations on the epistemic relationship between dreaming and dream reports, raises important questions about the extent to which dreams typically involve a detailed body representation—an assumption that plays an important role in philosophical work on dreaming. As a commonly accepted definition of dreaming is lacking in current dream research, the ISTH model, which integrates conceptual analysis and epistemological considerations with results from empirical research, is an important contribution to this field. By linking dreaming to felt presence, full-body illusions, and autoscopic phenomena such as out-of-body experiences in wakefulness and in the hypnagogic state, the ISTH model of dreaming also helps integrate dream research, both theoretically and experimentally, with the study of other altered states of consciousness involving hallucinations. It makes straightforward and investigable predictions by claiming that all of these experiences have amodal spatiotemporal hallucinations as their common denominator. Finally, it is theoretically relevant for the philosophical discussion on minimal phenomenal selfhood. (shrink)
What is it like to dream? On an orthodox view, dreams involve misleading sensations and false beliefs. I argue, on philosophical, psychological, and neurophysiological grounds, that orthodoxy about dreaming should be rejected in favor of an imagination model of dreaming. I am thus in partial agreement with Colin McGinn, who has argued that we do not have misleading sensory experiences while dreaming, and partially in agreement with Ernest Sosa, who has argued that we do not form false beliefs while dreaming. (...) Rather, on my view, dreams involve mental imagery and propositional imagination. I defend the imagination model of dreaming from objections. (shrink)
Among the tools the epistemologist brings to the table ought to be, I suggest, a firm understanding of the imagination--one that is informed by philosophy of mind, cognitive psychology, and neuroscience. In my dissertation, I highlight several ways in which such an understanding of the imagination can yield insight into traditional questions in epistemology. My dissertation falls into three parts. In Part I, I argue that dreaming should be understood in imaginative terms, and that this has important implications for questions (...) about dream skepticism. In Part II, I argue that an understanding of the imagination is important for understanding important parts of philosophical methodology--particularly those involving thought experiments. I mean in Part II to be vindicating a great deal of traditional methodology. In Part III, I explore what I take to be a number of deep connections between knowledge and counterfactuals. I defend a form of contextualism in each domain, and argue that inference among imaginings, with its important structural similarities to inference in belief, plays a central role in the epistemology of counterfactuals. (shrink)
Sante De Sanctis (1862—1935), a pioneer of psychology in Rome at the end of the 19th century, applied methods from the expanding field of experimental psychology to the study of dreams, which was considered one of the leading ways to gain an understanding of normal and pathological psychic life. Taking inspiration from several traditions, De Sanctis proposed a study that anticipated a scientific program that also differentiated between contemporary psychoanalytical interpretations according to which previous dream psychology was considered a 'dark (...) forest'. On the contrary, the multi-faceted methodology that he adopted for the study of an, until then, marginal phenomenon of the 'new' psychology, represented an element of originality that also included the elaboration of a psycho-physiological theory of dreams. Although the Italian psychologist's work on dreams was characterized by these important methodological changes, it disappeared from the references of those who contributed to the foundation of modern dreaming psychology after the Second World War. The present article places De Sanctis' psychology of dreams in its scientific context and singles out its originality while also analyzing the reasons for its marginalization. (shrink)
What, if anything, do dreams tell us about ourselves? What is the relationship between types of sleep and types of dreams? Does dreaming serve any purpose? Or are dreams simply meaningless mental noise--"unmusical fingers wandering over the piano keys"? With expertise in philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience, Owen Flanagan is uniquely qualified to answer these questions. In this groundbreaking work, he provides both an accessible survey of the latest research on sleep and dreams and a compelling new theory about the nature (...) and function of dreaming. Flanagan argues that while sleep has a clear biological function and adaptive value, dreams are merely side effects, "free riders," irrelevant from an evolutionary point of view. But dreams are hardly unimportant. Flanagan argues that dreams are self-expressive, the result of our need to find or to create meaning, even when we're sleeping. Written with remarkable insight, Dreaming Souls offers a fascinating new way of apprehending one of the oldest mysteries of mental life. (shrink)
In Dreaming Souls, Owen Flanagan provides both an accessible survey of the latest research on sleep and dreams and a compelling new theory about the nature and function of dreaming. Flanagan argues that while sleep has a clear biological function and adaptive value, dreams are merely side effects, 'free-riders', irrelevant from an evolutionary point of view. But dreams are hardly unimportant. Indeed, Flanagan argues that dreams are self-expressive, the result of our need to find or create meaning, even when we (...) are sleeping. (shrink)
Many philosophers have argued that dreams cannot be conscious states since they occur during sleep. Some wish to identify dreams with only what we remember of them and, discounting the reliability of memory, also discount dreams. I will argue that access to dreaming is not limited to our waking memories of them. Dreaming is similar to other marginal or altered states of consciousness, and as such can be held to involve consciousness even when we do not remember dreams.
What could it mean to be conscious in your dreams? For most of us, dreaming is something quite separate from normal life. When we wake up from being chased by a ferocious tiger, or seduced by a devastatingly good-looking Nobel Prize winner we realize with relief or disappointment that "it was only a dream.".
Dreams as Virtual Reality simulations. When David Chalmers wrote “The Virtual and the Real” the argument many focused on the metaphysical and epistemic nature Virtual Reality and how it compares to waking states and dreaming sates. But one interesting segment of the paper is where he defends his thesis by claiming that dreams are not experiences. This is where I take issue and, in my paper, I claim that dreams as much as VR are epistemically similar enough to be called (...) an experience. Exploring my thesis further in how the function of phenomenal and access consciousness play a key role in waking states and dreaming states. Having followed the argument laid out by Chalmers, I first test what would a sufficient answer for my claim look like. Then I chip away at the idea leading to the conclusion that dreams are epistemically rich as waking states. (shrink)