Aristotle’s Dream Theory

As pupil of Plato,  Aristotle believed in the importance of the use of reason and how its use can influence a person’s wellbeing and personality. Also, like Plato the presence or the lack thereof reason is influential in Aristotle’s dream theory (Shuttleworth, M. (2010).  The sleep state allows the manifestation of dreams to occur because on one hand the individual is no longer concerned with physiological process of wellbeing. While on the other hand sense organs, being secondary to organs that deal with nutrition and other aspects of wellbeing, are active but not functioning at full potential as they are in the waking sate. While awake the sensory process and emotions of a individual are secondary and noticed less, however, while asleep emotions and sensory experiences are manifested.  Aristotle uses the notion of after images to demonstrate that a object that is being perceived by any of the sense organs continues this sensory activity once the object is removed (McCurdy, 1946, p. 225). This concept then leads to the idea that McCrudy, 1946, states “that the sense organ may impose some of its own qualities on the object,” (225) indicating that sensory process are not completely dependent on any external influences.  This leads to Aristotle’s understanding of what is occurring during sleep.  During sleep these after-images of sensory activity create along with emotions create this false reality in dreams. The dream can then be perceived as reality as long as one is not aware of being asleep because while in the sleep state judgment, like reason for Plato, is hindered and ceases.  Once the dream becomes similar to reality and one is able to judge the difference between the dream and reality, the dream turns into an illusion (McCurdy, 1946, p. 225). This once again brings up the dilemma of the interaction between the mind and body.

By: David Minnick

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