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Hardcover | $69.00 Short | £57.95 | 824 pp. | 7 x 9 in | 1 color illus., 4 b&w illus. | June 2015 | ISBN: 9780262028677
eBook | $48.00 Short | July 2015 | ISBN: 9780262327459
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A Conceptual Framework for Philosophy of Mind and Empirical Research


Dreams, conceived as conscious experience or phenomenal states during sleep, offer an important contrast condition for theories of consciousness and the self. Yet, although there is a wealth of empirical research on sleep and dreaming, its potential contribution to consciousness research and philosophy of mind is largely overlooked. This might be due, in part, to a lack of conceptual clarity and an underlying disagreement about the nature of the phenomenon of dreaming itself. In Dreaming, Jennifer Windt lays the groundwork for solving this problem. She develops a conceptual framework describing not only what it means to say that dreams are conscious experiences but also how to locate dreams relative to such concepts as perception, hallucination, and imagination, as well as thinking, knowledge, belief, deception, and self-consciousness.

Arguing that a conceptual framework must be not only conceptually sound but also phenomenologically plausible and carefully informed by neuroscientific research, Windt integrates her review of philosophical work on dreaming, both historical and contemporary, with a survey of the most important empirical findings. This allows her to work toward a systematic and comprehensive new theoretical understanding of dreaming informed by a critical reading of contemporary research findings. Windt’s account demonstrates that a philosophical analysis of the concept of dreaming can provide an important enrichment and extension to the conceptual repertoire of discussions of consciousness and the self and raises new questions for future research.

About the Author

Jennifer M. Windt is a Lecturer at Monash University, Melbourne, and the author of Dreaming (MIT Press).


“This is the most comprehensive book on dreaming that I have ever encountered. Windt makes a substantial contribution to the science and philosophy of dreams; her taxonomy of hypotheses is well argued and sufficiently articulated to permit other thinkers either to adopt them or propose revisions to them, knowing what they are accepting or rejecting. That map of the terrain is in itself a valuable gift to the field. Dreaming is well written, superbly researched, imaginative, and very astutely reasoned. It has my highest recommendation.”
Daniel C. Dennett, author of Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness
“Wake up, William James. Dream consciousness is calling and wants to talk to you.”
J. Allan Hobson, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Emeritus, Harvard Medical School; Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
“This magnificent book is the best philosophical study of dreaming, bar none. It’s also an outstanding work of cognitive science, with huge importance for sleep and dream research, as well as the neuroscience of consciousness. Offering superb synthesis and original theory, this book sets a new standard for the science and philosophy of dreaming in the twenty-first century.”
Evan Thompson, Professor of Philosophy, University of British Columbia; author of Waking, Dreaming, Being and Mind in Life
“Jennifer Windt’s Dreaming is without doubt the most comprehensive—and the most sensible—philosophical treatise on the dreaming mind ever written. Dreaming lays the foundation for a unified future science of dreaming, consciousness, and self.”
Antti Revonsuo, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Skövde, Sweden; Professor of Psychology, University of Turku, Finland; author of Inner Presence: Consciousness as a Biological Phenomenon and Consciousness: The Science of Subjectivity