, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 295-316
Date: 06 May 2010

The immersive spatiotemporal hallucination model of dreaming

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Abstract

The paper proposes a minimal definition of dreaming in terms of immersive spatiotemporal hallucination (ISTH) occurring in sleep or during sleep–wake transitions and under the assumption of reportability. I take these conditions to be both necessary and sufficient for dreaming to arise. While empirical research results may, in the future, allow for an extension of the concept of dreaming beyond sleep and possibly even independently of reportability, ISTH is part of any possible extension of this definition and thus is a constitutive condition of dreaming. I also argue that the proposed ISTH model of dreaming, in conjunction with considerations on the epistemic relationship between dreaming and dream reports, raises important questions about the extent to which dreams typically involve a detailed body representation—an assumption that plays an important role in philosophical work on dreaming. As a commonly accepted definition of dreaming is lacking in current dream research, the ISTH model, which integrates conceptual analysis and epistemological considerations with results from empirical research, is an important contribution to this field. By linking dreaming to felt presence, full-body illusions, and autoscopic phenomena such as out-of-body experiences in wakefulness and in the hypnagogic state, the ISTH model of dreaming also helps integrate dream research, both theoretically and experimentally, with the study of other altered states of consciousness involving hallucinations. It makes straightforward and investigable predictions by claiming that all of these experiences have amodal spatiotemporal hallucinations as their common denominator. Finally, it is theoretically relevant for the philosophical discussion on minimal phenomenal selfhood.