Consciousness: Living in a dream world

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I’ve been enthralled by several interviews on the Lex Fridman podcast with guest Joscha Bach. His views have had me play with my own interpretation of consciousness.

Joscha describes our experience of the world as a “dream world” (interview 2). What we see is a quite accurate predictive model of the electromagnetic world we live in.

Yet what we perceive is a model. The model is not reality in terms of what is physically real. What I see in the room around me is a predictive model to help me navigate the room. The model that I perceive with objects and colours and light is quite different to the reality of atoms and molecules that make up this room and what it contains.

Joscha also talks about dreams during sleep, arguing that they allow the organism to integrate the day’s events into a more whole understanding of the world, letting it start afresh the next day (interview 3).

I’ve been wondering how this worldview is relative to Carl Jung’s view of dreams, with dreams coming from the unconscious. For Jung, dreams are a symbolic language from the unconscious. They are a way for the unconscious to communicate “up” to the personal consciousness.

I find it interesting that dreams are uncoupled from the immediate environment in which our body is physically sleeping. It’s a chance, perhaps, for the predictive model to let loose and play out scenarios.

In this way, the unconscious is our predictive model of the world around us. When awake, it’s tightly coupled to the environment, needed for helping us model the electromagnetic reality we’re in. When asleep, this “predictive model” is free to create its own worlds.


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