Macquarie University
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Dream pluralism: a philosophy of the dreaming mind

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posted on 2022-03-28, 14:03 authored by Melanie Gillespie Rosen
This thesis applies a cross-disciplinary, integrative approach to the study of dreams. I propose a pluralistic view of dreams which opposes reductive accounts, instead focusing on the variety of experiences that can occur during sleep. I begin, in Part I, by demonstrating that dreams are highly varied and involve a multitude of features. Some dreams contain a variety of bizarre elements and irrational cognition, whereas others are accurate representations of waking life and display waking levels of cognition. I then argue that reductive theories of dreaming do not account for all dreams. Reductive views include the anti-experience thesis, the imagination model and perceptual views of dreams. Dreams cannot be reduced to any of these particular elements: a dream can be either imaginative, or perceptual or contain elements of both. -- In Part II, I apply a variety of dream phenomena to debates in modern philosophy, areas where dreams have received insufficient attention. Firstly, I analyse a type of dreaming that I refer to as “dreaming vicariously”, in which the protagonist of the dream is not the same person as the dreamer. I argue that these types of dreams pose an interesting problem for philosophy of the self, because it is conceivable that one brain can contain multiple minds. I then discuss dreams and the extended mind. I argue that it is feasible that dreaming cognition could be extended into the external environment in the future if we develop wi-fi cognitive enhancement devices. However, dreaming usually involves only internal, isolated cognition and this provides a counter argument to the theory of extended consciousness. Finally, I demonstrate that dreams have interesting implications for philosophical theories of consciousness. Since dreaming is a pervasive conscious experience that occurs for most people multiple times every night, it is important that any theory of consciousness provides a plausible account of dreaming that is consistent with the current dream theory. I evaluate theories that as yet fail to provide convincing accounts of dreaming. -- An integrative approach provides new insight into both the ontology of dreams and our understanding of the mind.


Alternative Title

Philosophy of the dreaming mind

Table of Contents

PART I. Dream pluralism -- 1. The empirical study of dreams: discoveries and disputes -- 2. Bizarreness and metacognition in dreams: the pluralist view of content and cognition -- 3. Rethinking the received view: anti-experience and narrative fabrication -- 4. Dreaming as imagination -- 5. Perceptual views of dreams -- PART II. Philosophy of dreams: self, mind and cognition -- 6. Dreaming vicariously: implications for the self -- 7. Extended mind, dreaming mind -- 8. Consciousness in dreams -- Conclusion -- References.


Bibliography: pages 305-331

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Cognitive Science

Department, Centre or School

Department of Cognitive Science

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

John Sutton

Additional Supervisor 1

Peter Menzies


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Melanie Gillespie Rosen 2012.




1 online resource (331 pages)

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