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Dream pluralism: a philosophy of the dreaming mind
thesisposted 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.