12 June 2014

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting: Dreams + News

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we are discussing Dreams.

We can talk about the dreams we experience at night and we can talk of
dreams in a metaphorical way such as ambitions. In my few paragraphs
below I ask why there does not seem to be a connection between the two
types of dreams such that we can achieve our wakeful dreams.

In the meantime Ruel has sent us a link to his essay:

Hello Lawrence,
Below is the link to the short essay I wrote on the topic for Sunday's
PhiloMadrid. I decided not to write a more comprehensive one because I
remembered I already wrote something on a similar topic--"Is Life a
Dream?"--more than a year ago.

See you on Sunday.

And finally, Miguel has sent us details about the next Mathematics Tertulia:

Estimado tertuliano,

Te invitamos a asistir a la próxima Tertulia de Matemáticas el próximo
Lunes 16 de Junio a las 19:00h en El Centro Segoviano de Madrid, en la
que D. Javier Sánchez González hablará de la La Lacería Árabe

Por otro lado, el próximo Viernes 13 de Junio a las 20:00 en La Casa de
Granada de Madrid D. Javier pronunciará la conferencia "Arquitectura
Andalusí y Mudéjar".

Saludos cordiales,
Tertulia de Matemáticas

-- Lawrence - Dreams

We can speak of dreams in two ways: either as physical events in our
brain or in a metaphorical manner to refer to our ambitions and long
term desires.

I would say that today dreams as physical brain events have been
successfully become the study subject of medicine and other biological
sciences. Hence, if sleep dreams are the subject of philosophy today
they would be within the context of philosophy of medicine and science.

Of course, this does not mean that we know all there is to know about
dreams; far from it. Nor that we have answers to basic questions such as
are dream experiences like conscious experiences? Or are dreams random
brain events or structured brain events? And then there is the role
played by memory.

What is clear about dreams is that the average person can easily
distinguish the difference between a dream experience and a conscious
experience. What is also clear about dreams is that we can dream about
ourselves in dreams, as the principal actor, we can also dream about us
being someone or something else, but we never dream as another person.
The "I" in the dream is always the "I" in the conscious wakeful life;
but never the "I" of, for example, the Queen of Sheba. In other words,
the Queen of Sheba does not invade my brain and starts to deam using my

It should, therefore, not be a surprise that even in the metaphorical
use of the concept "dream" we imply the non existence or the
improbability of our ambitions. Ambitions that are beyond our reach in
the same way that flying as we do in our sleep dreams are beyond our
reach in wakeful life.

Indeed, to describe the idea of something being difficult to achieve or
close to impossible to achieve we would use expressions such as
childhood dreams or I dream of becoming/achieving/... etc. We also
accuse people of living in a dream world, having a pipe dream, or to
tell them to "dream on" when they propose something impossible.

We also mustn't forget the most important dream of the 20th century i.e.
the American Dream. This slogan was probably the first successful
national advertising slogan that people prescribed and acted upon.
Indeed the slogan and ethos is couched in a causal language such as work
hard, have opportunities as other and, indirectly, don't deviate from
the prescribed path for example by smoking pot keeping long hair. In
reality the value of the American dream ethos was not that everyone is
able to become socially mobile, but rather that only a few could reach
the American dream thus giving them social status and exclusivity above
the rest. If this was not the case they would have called it the
American Human Right; but then again the grand project of the welfare
state has been misused, abused and finally ransacked in the same manner
as the American dream has been misused, abused and people ransacked off
their wealth.

Today this idea of an American dream has evolved or morphed into such
expression as, the dream house, dream husband, dream car, dream holiday,
dream wife etc. Except this time one only needs to work hard to maintain
a credit line open.

It is quite curious that what we dream for in our conscious life does
not feature too regularly in our sleep dream. Sure sometimes we actually
do dream of driving our dream car, and sometimes we do dream of a
solution on how to achieve this, but never on regular basis. And when
these dreams happen they tend to happen when we heavily think about
these dreams in our conscious life. Maybe we think very hard of our
dream holiday during the day and then at night we dream of being in that

My point is that there does not seem to be an established biological
mechanism to consolidate our conscious dreams (ambitions) with our sleep
dreams; maybe a way to work out how to achieve our dreams –sort of
to-do-list or flow chart. I am thinking of a kind of biological
mechanism that consolidates our memories when we sleep.

Quite legitimately, some people want to know how they can determine the
content of their dreams, or what their dreams mean, especially given
that dreams tend to be a daily experience. On the hand our real life
dreams are equally as slippery as our sleeping dreams.

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813
philomadrid@gmail.com <mailto:philomadrid@gmail.com>
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao
Open Tertulia in English every Thursday from 19:30 to 21h at
Irish Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal)

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting: Dreams + News

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