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Pincus, D. (2001). Dreaming Souls. Sleep, Dreams, and the Evolution of the Conscious Mind: Owen Flanagan, Philosophy of Mind Series. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000, xii & 210 pp., $25.00.. Neuropsychoanalysis, 3(1):121-126.

(2001). Neuropsychoanalysis, 3(1):121-126

Dreaming Souls. Sleep, Dreams, and the Evolution of the Conscious Mind: Owen Flanagan, Philosophy of Mind Series. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000, xii & 210 pp., $25.00.

Review by:
David Pincus, DMH

Who or what dreams the dream? Does the brain dream the dream, or is it the mind? While I realize that this way of postulating such a question is hopelessly Cartesian, passe, and simply not very useful, many discussions on this matter have been disguised encampments on newer versions of this old terrain. Even in this integrative journal, the excellent series of articles on dreaming (Braun, 1999; Hobson, 1999) was peppered with vestiges of the old polemics. Some authors partial to the mind's role in the dreaming process are encouraged by areas of cortex that are activated (where, presumably, mind resides); conversely, some who minimize or eviscerate mind's role are partial to brainstem levels of activation (where, presumably, no mind resides). These debates are difficult to avoid, given that we are all grappling to appreciate the remarkable philosophical and conceptual difficulties in weaving together mind and brain. Assumptions, proclivities, and other phenomena operating in a less than conscious fashion can all conspire in conflating domains of explanation. 1, for one, while inclined to imagine that mind “lives” both deep down and toward the forward reaches of the brain, prefer to remember that how and where minds emerge from brains (assuming that they do) remains difficult to fathom.

Owen Flanagan, philosopher and neuroscientist, has taken his stab at the great problem of how brains become minds through the vehicle of his book Dreaming Souls. He has not called the book Dreaming Brains, or, for that matter, Dreaming Minds, and thereby has avoided any apparent mind-brain problem, at least in the title.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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