Friday, 10 September 2010

Let the dead bury the dead

If you die in a dream do you die in real life?

First, dreams are real. They actually occur. People really do experience them; and so, in this sense, they do exist. Hallucinations and illusions exist. Otherwise, how could we talk about them? Unless, of course, our talk of them is unreal and, therefore, so must your understanding (or incomprehension) of this sentence. Secondly, while the events "in" dreams may not always exactly reflect the real-time waking world (though sometimes they may be incorporated into it such as a loud noise), or obey its physical laws, they are not hermetically sealed from it. You could not dream unless you have - had - contact with the waking world.

Suppose an unscrupulous scientist grew a brain in a hermetically sealed environment and created the impression of an “external” world for “it” by simulating sensory experience stimulus input (and concomitant behavioural feedback outputs) in the form of an imaginary computer generated world. Even that simulation has to have its roots in the waking world, for, where did the scientist get the ideas from to populate that illusory artificial world? Such a grand deception would, of necessity, import truths from the scientist's experience (may be even his dreams) and, indeed, there some truths not dependent on experience, such as those of logic and maths.

You cannot imagine you actually die. Even in waking. In imaging your so-called "death" – by definition – you are still present to witness it; therefore you cannot be dead.

But what if I imagine the events leading up to death? Could that not lead to its actuality?

Be mindful of cause and effect. People do die in their sleep and, one may suppose, some of them may have dreamt, prior to death, they were about to die. In this case, events – processes in the waking world - could have been reflected in the reality of the dream world.

Conversely, the matter of a dream – dying – may have been so disturbing, say to someone with a preexisting condition such as a weak heart, to initiate or accelerate the process of dying. Here, the dream may be the proximal cause, but that would be to ignore the wider explanatory framework.

People may dream of dying but one cannot actually imagine their own death (only the possible surrounding circumstances), since there is nothing to imagine. Dreaming attending your own funeral is only imagining what happens to what remains - not of you but the body - after death.

Even the dead are not present at their "the end".

In a very real sense "you" never die: are only dying.

Nor "I".

No, not "I".

QT woke to realise this almost singularly lopsided diatribe was all but a dream.

How can you dream if, in some sense, you aren't awake?

You are never entirely without consciousness, only you may not be, at the time, aware of that fact.

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