Dreams are fundamentally simulations of situations which can be imagined. This is their main function and evolutionary utility. That’s why and how they appeared. Dreams prepare our neurobiology to react to potential real worlds… which we have not experienced yet, like a bear appearing suddenly after making itself as flat as rug…

Dreams also are also… built to help guess new interpretations of situations that we may have encountered already. Yes, dreams are built! Dream machinery is the fundamental scientist, setting up thought experiments in universes we can’t imagine yet… before the dream happens.

Indeed, before the experiment, there is always the thought experiment. Before the idea, there is always the dream. Dreams are more about construction of appropriate neural networks… than interpretation… although dreams can also make neural interpretations of situation which have been encountered.

To understand how that could be, how these simulations… and stimulations… which we call dreams, could occur and leave a trace, one has to understand the consequences of a completely revolutionary idea: ideas and dreams correspond to neural networks within the brain… One has also to understand a further step in complication: that emotions derive, in part from generalizations of neural networks (and the topological influences, not to say computation, the neurohormones they secrete… operate).Neural networks are real objects, not dreamy stupidities a la Plato not belonging to the “real’ world. Existence in the real world means energy and inertia. Thus dreams appear from energy and inertia, and acquire existence from them. It matters, literally, matters in the physical sense, what we dream. Dark Dreams Matter.  

It’s not us who do stuff in dreams, but rather dreams which make us into what we are.

In other words, ideas, dreams and emotions all have physical reality, they are sets of physical objects (embodied categories to use mathematics). But they are also different notions from each other: ideas can be consciously visited (that’s probably enacted by sets of connection to a higher level “meta” layer of neurons… probably in the frontal cortex)… 

Dreams are only preparations of ideas… ideas, the stronger networks, can get consciously inspected, because they are stronger and connected to the meta-conscious layer. The weaker networks correspond to the subconscious (or the nearly conscious) and when those are activated, in sorts of chain reactions, we experience what we call dreams… Shall we have them again and again, Hebbian reinforcement occurr, making them stronger and thus into emerging consciousness…

The mechanism fostering dream states is the shutting down of parts of the brain which actively, or passively, suppress other parts of the brain. This happens naturally during sleep (it can also happen from variegated training, for example meditation, deepsea apnea diving, etc.). Hence the connection of dreams with sleep… But day-dreaming is definitely possible, whether in awake or “woke” states: it’s just a matter of shutting down inhibitions. (The woke/cancel culture is then a giant dream-like state of freedom from a previous perception of reality, and inhibitions…)

Having the capacity of dreaming, and that of imagination, which is related, means that human beings are ready to handle, as if they had experienced them, situations which never occurred before in experienced life… Or which were not even imaginable consciously! But those circumstances did occur in dream life… and left behind half-cooked neural networks…. But half ready networks means that they can turn into functional networks quickly. Hence the capacity of human beings to adapt to situations unforeseen in real life, but already experienced in dreams…  

Dreaming, and imagining, make human beings more intelligent, as the brain trained with the science of the imaginable in anticipation of whatever may come along.

We are the thinking animal, and that means thought experiments upon not just the realities we experienced, but also thought experiments upon the realities which live only in our minds.

According to Plato, Socrates enjoyed the advice of “daemons”, and many thinkers have argued that some inner voice advised them to do some things, or prevented them to do some things. When philosophers look inside themselves. they are searching for this inchoating neural networks… where the future, or alternate, often better, more real versions of reality lay [1].

Patrice Ayme



[1] “You have often heard me speak of an oracle or sign which comes to me, and is the divinity which Meletus ridicules in the indictment. This sign I have had ever since I was a child. The sign is a voice which comes to me and always forbids me to do something which I am going to do, but never commands me to do anything, and this is what stands in the way of my being a politician.” — Socrates, Plato’s Apology

The point being that politicians do not do introspection, searching for this inner, tentative networks. All politicians do is read. manipulate and exploit public logical and emotional networks: politicians’ minds are intrinsically about the past and the mob, that’s why they should be cancelled, as the end-all, be-all . Whereas intelligence is all about creativity and the future. And creation starts always with new neural networks… Deep inside.

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  1. brodix Says:

    The only practical difference between dreams and our awake state is that when we are awake, we have to constantly reset to new information. Conscious awareness is a constant creation of images that our minds build from the senses to function in the environment. Much of which is imagination, from those faces we see in random patterns, to how the mind constantly builds scenarios of what could have happened, might have happened, etc. To, as you point out, prepare ourselves for dealing with the future.
    Our consciousness isn’t in control of our immediate motor functions, as has been well shown, presumably to disprove the concept of free will. Though its function is to better inform our future reactions. To learn.
    Yet consciousness seeks to control the outside reality, by pushing back against it. So not only do we alter our landscape, but also instinctively ignore and avoid information that might interfere with our preferences. That creates a negative feedback loop, where we ignore necessary information, until it can no longer be ignored.
    In fact, this tendency infects most of society, where we group with others having the same instincts, hopes, compulsions, etc.
    So we have everything from political parties, religions and the corruption of power.
    Consider mathematicians and military strategists; They construct these elaborate structures, using agreed upon rules and then follow them out, like running a computer program. Irrespective of where it might lead, or what damage it might incur.
    Are three dimensions really foundational to space, or are they a mapping device, like longitude, latitude and altitude? Isn’t math really about working out the rules, making axioms out of the more confusing realities, like treating time as a dimension, then running the program, like rats exploring the maze. Math is to reality, what chess is to war.
    Military strategists have been allowed to turn the military into a social autoimmune disorder, as they map out any and every imagined threat to the power structure and then react to them with overwhelming force and intent, inciting those whom they are opposed, to react similarly and giving them more reasons to build out their arsenals, irrespective of the costs to the larger social organism.
    Should anyone question such belief systems, they will be ignored, cancelled, ostracized, shot, thrown in jail, burned at the stake, hung up on a cross, made to drink the hemlock.
    Until such time as the blowback and reductio ad absurdum cannot be ignored any longer and reality intervenes.


  2. Gmax Says:

    Limpid. So dreams are the mind under construction?
    A sort of half mind, or near-mind?


  3. pshakkottai Says:

    In the case of Srinivasa Ramanujan he explained his mathematics as “my goddess bled mathematics” and he simply wrote the results down and his maths opened up new fields. He just dreamed it all. What a fantastic dream!


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