Dream Life & Waking Life: Both are Creations of the Person
There is a growing appreciation for the variety of dream phenomena, such as
the creativity in dreams and their sometimes transpersonal aspects. Older
theories that generally ignored such facts are being replaced by newer ones
that attempt to account for such phenomena. Most recently, Gordon Globus,
M.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Philosophy at the University of
California, Irvine, has taken a stab at integrating such perspectives as
psychoanalysis, transpersonal psychology, cognitive science, and
phenomenological philosophy in a pleasantly person- able statement of a
view of dreams that readers of Perspective can live with.
That dreams are a creative experience is one of the main factors that he
wishes to explain. The author rejects the notion, in existence before
Freud made it law, that dreams are merely rearrangements of past memory
experiences. Instead, the author claims that dreams are created "de novo,"
meaning from scratch. In defending this position, he finds himself arguing
that our waking life is also an experience that we create, thus placing his
work close at hand to the metaphysical perspective that claims that we
"create our own reality." Both realms are created "in the image" (meaning
"in the imagination") of the person, in the same way God has been said to
create the world. The symmetry between the creative aspect of both dream
existence and waking existence, and the "divine" role given to the person,
is pleasing both to the ancient Buddhist and modern spiritual
The question is, how does this modern, scientifically grounded theoretician
justify such a metaphysical basis to dreams and waking life? He does so by
reference to both the leading edge theories of perceptual psychology and
certain philosophical traditions. Perceptual psychology has long abandoned
the camera analogy to explain how we see things. Plato's concept of the
archetype, the transpersonal, non-material "ideas" that govern the actual
ideas and things that we experience, has gained new favor in modern
thinking about the perceptual process. Instead of theorizing that our
perceptual mechanisms "photograph" what is out there, modern work has
forced the theory that we already "know" or "suppose" what it is that we
are trying to perceive, and then we search and analyze data bits according
to their significance and fit to what we are attempting to "perceive."
Meaning and intention are more significant to perception, in modern theory,
than light waves and photo-sensitivity. In other words, the creative and
subjective processes in perception are given more central prominence, and
the physics of perception are accorded more the status of tools than
primary determinants. Similarly, the philosophy of science has been
arguing that facts, as such, do not exist; rather theories--in other words,
intentional approaches to creating meaning--are what determine which data
bits constitute facts, and determines whether or not the data bits will
even be noticed.
Perhaps such philosophical abstractions seem cloudy or irrelevant, but the
mechanistic, sensory-based, objective approach to perception (whether in
visual perception or scientific knowing) has been
undergoing radical changes. Fans of the transpersonal dimension of life
who assume that the eye sees like a camera have an unnecessarily tough time
trying to justify as scientific their views on ESP. Realizing how
scientific and philosophical views on perception have evolved makes ESP
seem more natural than supernatural. Thus the author's work does us a
great service. It provides a readable treatise on how one can argue, on
the basis of both scientific and philosophical grounds, that dreams, not to
mention our lives, are pregnant with meaning (sometimes transpersonal
meaning), and deserve our attention.
Source: Dream life, waking life: The human condition through dreams.
Published by the State University of New York Press, 1987.
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