The 17th Century philosopher Rene Descartes is often considered the father of modern philosophy.
What Is It
A scary dream brings all the fears that a scary real situation can, and a happy dream can make us feel truly happy. But what are dreams? Where do they come from? And why do they feel so real? Thinkers from Descartes to Freud have been fascinated by dreams and their philosiphical significance. Join John and Ken as they explore one of the mind's greatest mysteries.
John and Ken begin by discussing how dreams and dreaming are interesting examples for approaching philosophical worries about knowledge and consciousness. Ken describes how Freud's theories about dreaming became the foundation for the modern study of dreams, and how dreaming may be a necessary biological and psychological process. John points out that modern neural science in the 1970's started to change the way we look at dreams, but Ken points out that many of Freud's old ideas are beginning to reemerge.
John and Ken discuss the definition of dreams in order to explore the topic philosophically. John brings in traditional ideas concerning the relationship between dreams and experience, and callers weigh in on whether they feel that dreams have meaning or are just random fluctuations in the brain.
Ken argues with John about referring to dreams as "experiences while sleeping", and uses our ability to imagine as a counterexample to John's claims. Ken tries to describe differences between dreaming and waking states in terms of coherence and logic, and John points out that with a few variations this is what Descartes ultimately concluded. John and Ken then discuss how some more contemporary philosophers tackled the problem of dreaming.
Callers discuss their own interpretations of dreams and several common theories that scientists and laymen have about the purpose and function of dreams.
- Roving Philosophical Reporter (Seek to 4:30): Our roving philosophical reporter talks to people about their strangest, favorite, and recurring dreams.
- Philosophy Talk Goes to the Movies (Seek to 47:48): John and Ken discuss "The Science of Sleep," a recent art film by Michel Gondry which brings up the interesting relationship between waking and dreaming hours.