12/12/2017 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

NYU Shanghai Lecture: Dreaming in Common

China ca. 300 BCE – 700 CE

Robert Campany

Around 500 BCE, the Ionian thinker Heraclitus is supposed to have said: “For those who are awake there is a single, common universe, whereas in sleep each person turns away into his own, private one.” This fragment captures what seems to be an uncontroversial, common-sense observation and a view of dreaming that is dominant in modernity. What I will argue in this talk is that views of dreaming recorded or implied in a wide variety of texts in early and medieval China offer a strong contrast to this view of dreaming as private. There, the very experience of dreaming itself was understood as an encounter with someone or something other than oneself.
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