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DREAMS, By Henri Bergson

"Before the dawn of history mankind was engaged in the study of dreaming. The wise man among the ancients was preëminently the interpreter of dreams. The ability to interpret successfully or plausibly was the quickest road to royal favor, as Joseph and Daniel found it to be; failure to give satisfaction in this respect led to banishment from court or death..

The subject of the significance of dreams, since then so long ignored, has suddenly become a matter of energetic study and of fiery controversy the world over. The cause of this revival of interest is the new point of view brought forward by Professor Bergson in this paper.

 This is the idea that we can explore the unconscious substratum of our mentality, the storehouse of our memories, by means of dreams, for these memories are by no means inert, but have, as it were, a life and purpose of their own, and strive to rise into consciousness whenever they get a chance, even into the semi-consciousness of a dream. To use Professor Bergson's striking metaphor, our memories are packed away under pressure like steam in a boiler and the dream is their escape valve.

In this essay Professor Bergson made several contributions to our knowledge of dreams. He showed, in the first place, that dreaming is not so unlike the ordinary process of perception as had been hitherto supposed. Both use sense impressions as crude material to be molded and defined by the aid of memory images. Here, too, he set forth the idea, which he, so far as I know, was the first to formulate, that sleep is a state of disinterestedness, a theory which has since been adopted by several psychologists. In this address, also, was brought into consideration for the first time the idea that the self may go through different degrees of tension..

Its chief interest for the general reader will, however, lie in the explanation it gives him of the cause of some of his familiar dreams. He may by practice become the interpreter of his own visions and so come to an understanding of the vagaries of that mysterious and inseparable companion, his dream-self."
[Taken from the Intro]

 The very short reading is HERE:

•  Reading is optional, but recommended.  This is really an opportunity for free discussion on the meaning of dreams.  The philosopher's essay is posted primarily as a grounding/entry point.  Diverse views encouraged.


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  • Brian

    This proved to be a very appropriate reading for a philosophy discussion on dreams. Excellent

    June 28, 2014

  • Xenia

    Hoping I can make it! LOVE dreams and talking about dreams. . .

    1 · June 27, 2014

  • Chad B.

    Power Rangers vs. Magnolia. Which movie soundtrack to choose? How about both?

    1 · June 26, 2014

  • Rick O.

    My initial response is 'of course they come from within.' But now that you ask... I don't know if I have any basis to say that, except I assume it. When I look out the window I don't think what I see comes from within.

    2 · June 25, 2014

    • eric

      The window and all that I see arises in the window of the mind...dichotomyless That is, every time I see a body there is a mind and vice versa.

      1 · June 25, 2014

  • jean p.

    Does anyone else wonder if dreams are self generated [i.e. the brain]or come to us from the outside and the beyond?

    1 · June 25, 2014

    • Brian

      Yes. My thought is that distinctions made through experience occur on a practical horizon. In practical matters, we draw guidance for action from principles of actions. What place does theory have in that? Bebunking bad theory only negatively relates insofar as it prevents chasing after dogma. But the principles are derived from the inside.

      June 25, 2014

  • Carol

    Sad to missing this one... should be fascinating

    June 22, 2014

    • Carol

      Sometimes topics blend into other conversations so perhaps I get enough nuggets through posts and other topics over time :-)

      June 23, 2014

    • Brian

      That's very true :)

      June 23, 2014

  • Rick O.

    "Both use sense impressions as crude material to be molded and defined by the aid of memory images. "


    And if a big chunk of life is lived by our "dream-self" (nice term) then perhaps we shouldn't so easily push him/her into the background?

    1 · June 23, 2014

  • Derwin

    for some reason i really appreciate that "AT THE BEACH" is in all caps.

    1 · June 7, 2014

    • Brian

      Bigger than dreams. .. but I erased it. I'd like feedback first on whether people prefer outside to Eva's. We can try other places too, like the Lily Pond

      1 · June 7, 2014

    • Imran M.

      How does the Lily Pond sound now? There are so many RSVPs for this!

      June 20, 2014

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