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Is there any real difference between reality and a dream?

  1. Mar 19, 2008 #1
    Is there any real difference between "reality" and a dream???

    You're reading this right now, and it might seem very real to you. You might truly believe that you really are reading this. Why do you believe that though? The answer must, at least in part, lie with the fact that you are unconsciously basing that assumption on the fact that various electrical process in your brain are telling you that this brief moment in your daily life is "real".

    But a "dream" is again, nothing more than electrical processes in the brain. Usually, we awaken from a dream, and might dismiss it as something that never happened in "reality".

    But if you believe that your decision to click on this thread just a minute ago was "reality", do you have anything other than electrical processes in your brain to base that assumption upon?

    It seems to me, that if every recollection of our lives is but the result of electrical processes in the brain, then there ought to be no real difference, nor no bias in terms of "importance", between so-called "reality" and a "dream".
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 19, 2008 #2
    A maximum of 2 senses can be active at a time during a dream. In reality you can use all of your senses at once. :)

    Hey... what?... it sounds really really good!
  4. Mar 19, 2008 #3
    Yes it does. And while dreams can seem real to me, context is everything.

    I know I fall asleep at night and within the bounds of that experience, I know I have 'experiences'.

    Those experiences however seem of a different quality. They are inconsistent and disjointed.

    I'm one of those people who doesn't remember much of my dreams, so it may be easier for me. Some people have very vivid dreams and remember them, some can even control their dreams and dream lucidly.

    Most I think would agree that there is more continuity to 'waking life'. I wake up mostly where I left off. Unless I've had too much to drink, of course.

    But even that last one is in context. I've discovered over my life that certain things cause inconsistency in perception. And I've compared that to the experiences that others tell me about.

    Its not perfect, but we have a relatively solid foundation to distinguish dreams and waking life... at least in terms of the quality of the experience.
  5. Mar 19, 2008 #4


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    It took me a long time to come across it but now that I've found it, it's never failed.

    There is one incontrivertible difference that sets dreams apart from reality - a subtle "simulation glitch" that lets me test which state I am currently in.

    If, after peeing, I don't feel the urge to pee any longer, I'm awake.
    If, after peeing, I perplexingly still feel the urge to pee, I'm dreaming.

    I sh*ite you not.
  6. Mar 19, 2008 #5

    Math Is Hard

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    Where did you get this information? Are you joking?
  7. Mar 20, 2008 #6
    I agree with everything Joe said, but also, what's shared between a dream and reality is that we with both see imagery, have emotions, it's called an experience.
    These two types of experiences come from the same thing, the brain.
    We can separate a dream from reality because of what Joe said, but also within the context of reality, a dream is a phenomena we know happens when we sleep.
    While yeah, you can say all of reality is a dream, from a kind of solipsists point of view, but a sleep dream is nothing more than a phenomena within the brain, within reality(which may be defines as a dream in some cases.)

    There's no reason to say reality isn't 'real' though. What people experience in their lives is as real as it's going to get, at least from our perspective the way we are made.
    It's all we got really, so why not believe it?
  8. Mar 20, 2008 #7
    Yes... I was joking :rolleyes:
  9. Mar 20, 2008 #8
    Physicist Victor Stenger argues that reality is point-of-view invariant, whereas this might not apply to dreams.
  10. Apr 1, 2008 #9
    The pee test can be dangerous. More then once, when young, I found after peeing in a dream I no longer needed to pee.

    I think an interesting variation on the question would be to theorize the presence of a powerful hallucinogen such as DMT rather than a dream state. While under the influence of such a drug, the break with reality can become total. The hallucinogenic state can have self-consistent history and rules. It can also include time effects making it seem to go on indefinitely, and to have been going on indefinitely. Perhaps, we are all tripping right now.
  11. Apr 3, 2008 #10
    I've noticed that I do not have shadows in my dreams...
    ..not sure what that means..
  12. Apr 3, 2008 #11

    To answer your question within your title....

    Control is what the difrince is... and due to the fact, in your reality everyone els is there in there reality as well, but in a dream you alone would be in your own created reality in your head.

    thats the answer to your question in your title :/ and its true and correct

    And anyways... are brain is are mind and are mind is are brain... so are brain is us, and are mind is us... the only difrence would be the mind speak's english...
  13. Apr 3, 2008 #12
    It is real beacuse i say it's real, so therefore i make it real -.-

    why when i say it's real it make's it real?
  14. Apr 3, 2008 #13


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    The difference should be pretty obvious: when you are awake, those electrical impulses are generated/formed by your external senses. In a dream, the "reality" is generated internally.

    It just sounds to me like you need to watch the Matrix again - you don't quite have it down.
  15. Apr 3, 2008 #14
    LOL yea that movie dose portray it in a way just about everyone can understand...

    But nature tell's the story much better :/
  16. Apr 7, 2008 #15
    Descartes did this first.

    The answer is, erm, yes. Of course there is a difference between reality and dreams. Think about it.

    But producing an argument to the conclusion that we can know we're not dreaming sounds kind of tricky, and therein lies the attractiveness of Descartes's argument.
  17. Apr 7, 2008 #16
    Locke's response to Descartes ran something to the effect of "How about I push you in a fire and we see how you respond." His point being of course, you would try to put out the fire and live whether in a dream or not.
  18. Oct 20, 2009 #17
    Re: Is there any real difference between "reality" and a dream???

    Reality is an 'extended' dream and Death is when you wake up. Think of this - Can we at this moment tell with 100% confidence ' I am not dreaming'. May be we will wake up this moment from this dream.

    I know it is not as simple as it sounds, but its a very interesting paradigm. What happens when we die - this world no more exists for us, it is only a memory, maybe 'just like a dream'.

    My conclusion: A dream is reality when you are in it. Reality is a dream (memory) when you are out of it.
  19. Oct 20, 2009 #18


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    Re: Is there any real difference between "reality" and a dream???

    This is looking at the problem only symptomatically, ignoring the origin of these states: the conscious and unconscious mind.

    A dream is what your unconscious mind does to entertain itself when your conscious mind is dormant. Waking state is what happens when your conscious mind returns to its active state and reasserts its dominance.
  20. Oct 20, 2009 #19
    Re: Is there any real difference between "reality" and a dream???

    I got the impression he was stating that the conscious mind/brain is (also) a projection(constituent part of the dream), the opposite of the mind being responsible for all objective sensory sensations. What the thing that 'projects' those sensations(reality) onto the mind is supposed to be like, is not something i can fathom, though. Maybe he can clarify his beliefs about us being in a more fundamental state somewhere else, and only temporarily here(dream state) in this physical universe. I wonder when we "wake up" as he claims after death, how are we supposed to know that we aren't again in a dream-reality?

    Would a total freedom and no laws of physics and bounderies mean that you have woken up?

    If yes, i don't want to wake up(yet).
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2009
  21. Oct 20, 2009 #20


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    Re: Is there any real difference between "reality" and a dream???

    I have hit the ground from a great height while dreaming and picked myself right up. I wouldn't do that in real life. Dreams for me are not real.
  22. Oct 21, 2009 #21
    Re: Is there any real difference between "reality" and a dream???

    > Let me add another state of our mind (in addition to unconscious- dreaming/ conscious-waking) - the sleep state. In this state we do not experience anything, but we are somewhere. Well, there can be another state of consciousness that is different from all these 3. While dreaming we are not aware of reality, so I cannot say what this fourth state is while in this reality-dream. This brings me to another question - what is space? ( is it an absolute reality OR just a sensory perception).

    >You did understand what I was trying to convey. So, coming to the concept of space, what space are we in when we are dreaming? are we physically (as per the laws of physics) present in the conscious world (I am talking about individual awareness and not of the body as others can see it)?

    > 'somewhere else' need not be some space in the physical sense. Are we in a different physical location when we are dreaming as against when we are awake? Same way we need not be in a different physical location after death, we may become aware of the the illusion of 'what we call reality now' as being something like a dream.

    > I do not know about that for sure.

    Would a total freedom and no laws of physics and bounderies mean that you have woken up?

    While dreaming, have you ever been aware that you are in a dream? It is a very funny feeling. I did experience it a couple of times , but it did not stay for long. I must say I did feel great freedom during that phase, and wanted to enjoy the dream with abandon. Sadly, they did not last for long. Would like to know if anyone has had a similar experience in dreams.
  23. Oct 21, 2009 #22
    Re: Is there any real difference between "reality" and a dream???

    Interesting topic !

    Sometimes I have also been aware of dreaming, although still been careful because I could not be 100% sure of dream.

    In some dreams I have also made experiments, calculus and even "innovations", aiming to analyze it later after awakening - are the physics laws and logics the same in dream world as in "real" world? Such research in dream is not always easy accomplish. (My impression is that logics is consistent in dream world, but not always exactly the same as in "real" world).

    Some times I have also dreamt in dream in dream... up to threee or four stages - and
    waked up in stages not sure when finally in "real" world. Bedlamp not working is sign of still in dream world. :bugeye:
  24. Oct 21, 2009 #23


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    Re: Is there any real difference between "reality" and a dream???

    I certainly have, many times. It is 100% coincident with becoming fully conscious and not just subconscious. As soon as I realize I'm dreaming, it's like a veil over my whole brain is lifted and I become fully aware, have all my will, can think logically and thoughtfully and be fully questioning how "this" can be so real, just like waking life. It's very odd indeed because if it happens to you once, you will never think of waking reality the same way.

    I had a fully conscious experience once where I did not know I was dreaming, and that to me was the most extreme of all mind bending experiences. I had a different job then in waking life, I had a family, a dog, and all memories of this new person that I had become. Had I not awaken, I never would have known that I had any other life than that one. Talk about a religious experience, holy moly. No drugs used.
  25. Nov 11, 2009 #24
    Re: Is there any real difference between "reality" and a dream???

    Your brain perceives dreams the same way it perceives reality, so there's no difference between reality and dreams to your brain, but there is obviously a difference between reality and dreams to your body. So the answer to the question "Is there any real difference between "reality" and a dream?" is that to the brain, no, to the body, yes.
  26. Nov 11, 2009 #25


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    Re: Is there any real difference between "reality" and a dream???

    This is not true. I don't know why you say this.

    Your brain perceives reality through our senses. It does not perceive dreams through our senses, rather it manufactures dreams from within, partly pulled from memories, but much of it constructed by our mind on-the-fly.
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