Wednesday, October 03, 2007

What God Said

Whilst reading about the origins of Fundamentalism at Siris, and having been pondering upon the ontological possibilities for a Creator, the following scenario occurred to me (sketchily:)
......You’ve been dreaming (vividly) but now you’re starting to wake up, although you’ve still got access to your point of view within the dream. That won’t last long, but you’ve just enough time (before you leave the dream behind, as a fading set of images) for a brief action within the dream: you spontaneously say, “You’re not really real,” to the character that you’d been talking to (in your dream).
......And imagine that the characters to whom you’d been speaking (within that dream) were subjects... not in the way that telepathic intruders might (just possibly) be, their minds belonging to the same world as yours ...but because in this scenario your powers are, to that limited extent, like a God’s (a bit like how alien scientists might make intelligent computers out of inert matter).
......
So, was what you said true or false? You said it because you’d just realised that you’d only been dreaming; but on the other hand you said it within the dream, to the individual that your “You” referred to. So my guess is that although it was literally true, that individual ought to think of it as a literally false metaphor (that sketchy scenario should itself be interpretted analogically:)

3 comments:

rich said...

I think we can resolve this by considering a dream to be a fiction. If two characters in a novel meet and one says "You're not real" to the other, the statement is false if and only if the character in the book is in fact real (in the book).

It doesn't make any difference whether the character is a depiction of a real person. That is, imagine the hero of the book runs into Bertrand Russell and the present King of France in a bar, and says "Neither of you is real".

Assuming one of them isn't a hologram, or some other illusion, the hero can't be right about Russell and wrong about the King. In the book, both are real people.

If you accept that analysis then it just becomes a question of what can make truth in a novel, or a daydream, or an actual dream.

Enigman said...

Hi Rich,

Thanks for the neat comment. I do think that a dream is like a fiction...

I think that reference to a fictional object (e.g. to Sherlock Holmes) is reference back to the intentional object in the author's imagination, e.g. to Conan Doyle's notion of Sherlock Holmes, so that what would make it true (in those novels) that Sherlock Holmes was a detective would be Conan Doyle having thought of him as a (fictional) detective.

But I'd want the hero (called "X") to be a depiction of the author (X), and to be saying something that the author actually thinks, but which is not true in the novel. Maybe then the "X" in "... X said, "You're not real," ..." would refer simultaneously to the hero and to the author (with the work becoming a blend of fiction and non-fiction)...

In some ways a fiction would have made a better analogy (for Creation), as dreams are less deliberate than fictions; but a pertinent difference between a dream and a novel is that in my dream I seem to be there, much as I seem to be here now, whereas in my novel, even as I imagine the scenes as I write it, I don't (so I'm not sure:)

Enigman said...

...I could probably also have picked something less general to be said by the dreamer (author), although talk of the dreamer's (author's) reality might be analogous to God's talk of Himself (e.g. in Job) or Jesus's parables about Heaven...