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Philosophy of Dreams

Philosophy of Dreams

Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Philosophy of Dreams
    Book Description:

    Why has humankind developed so differently from other animals? How and why did language, culture, religion, and the arts come into being? In this wide-ranging and ambitious essay, Christoph Türcke offers a new answer to these timeworn questions by scrutinizing the phenomenon of the dream, using it as a psychic fossil connecting us with our Stone Age ancestors. Provocatively, he argues that both civilization and mental processes are the results of a compulsion to repeat early traumas, one to which hallucination, imagination, mind, spirit, and God all developed in response.

    Until the beginning of the modern era, repetition was synonymous with de-escalation and calming down. Then, automatic machinery gave rise to a new type of repetition, whose effects are permanent alarm and distraction. The new global forces of distraction, Türcke argues, are producing a specific kind of stress that breaks down the barriers between dreams and waking consciousness. Türcke's essay ends with a sobering indictment of this psychic deregulation and the social and economic deregulations that have accompanied it.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-19912-3
    Subjects: Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xxiv)

    To engage with dreams is to descend to the underworld, to let go of everything solid offered by “established” customs and habits, forms of perception and thought, and dive down into the primordial world—the hallucinatory world of feelings and images from which human culture emerged with difficulty. For humans, there are two types of primitive world: the one we experience as young children, before we are fully acculturated, and the one humanity as a whole must have lived through, so that each individual may pass through it again in a foreshortened version.

    It is quite evident that the primitive...

  5. CHAPTER ONE Dreams
    (pp. 1-84)

    People are sitting sociably around a fireplace. At the feet of the gentleman of the house, a hunting dog lies comfortably stretched out, sleeping. Suddenly it gives a muffled bark. “He is dreaming,” says the gentleman. “That is his hunting voice.” And the assembled guests begin to fantasize about what the dog might be “hunting.” A deer or a fox? We will never know. The dog cannot formulate in words whatever it was that made him bark in his sleep. But of that highly developed mammal’s dream there are not only external signs; we have proof from the neuroscience laboratory....

  6. CHAPTER TWO Drives
    (pp. 85-153)

    Ordinarily, modern european languages conjugate their verbs in either the active or the passive voice. Someone carries out an action, or an action is carried out by someone. But there is something in between: An action is carried out; it happens. For this, ancient Greek had a special form of conjugation that existed alongside the active and passive voices. It was called the “middle” voice. It has not survived, but it lives on, in a way, in intransitive verbs, which are spoken by a subject but do not refer to any object. For example: “The child grows.” Here the child...

    (pp. 154-224)

    What is a word, anyway? Nothing but a voiced breath, it is barely spoken before it has already flown away, to go under in many other words that layer and undermine each other, disappear in a general murmur, and—since the mass media are also ceaselessly multiplying—have become a constant background noise of high-tech culture. Language is more than a piling up of words; it is a grammatical-syntactic structure that founds an order and an orientation. The single word, by comparison, is just an inconstant, disappearing element within it.

    All the more remarkable are those moments when the word...

    (pp. 225-242)

    This book asks the question of origins. But it would be a profound mistake to read it as only a new version of the old philosophy of origins, like Aristotle’s unmoved mover, Rousseau’s nature, or Bloch’s hope—as a philosophy that takes traumatic repetition compulsion as theprincipiumthat defines the world’s meaning and determines its course. To understand traumatic repetition compulsion as aprincipleis to fail to grasp what itis, namely a form of reaction—initially a mere reflex, a particular kind of stimulus flight untainted by any higher, much less cultural intent. Only after the fact,...

  9. NOTES
    (pp. 243-270)
  10. Index of Proper Names
    (pp. 271-273)