Day 2069, On sleep and sleeplessness.

Towards Olympia – Greece, 2014

The pictures you see were from a trip we made in 2014 to Greece. Most people go to the islands, but we decided to rent a car and drive through the main country and visit the ancient sites. It is a beautiful country with relatively few tourists, so all the sites are not overcrowded, and you can really enjoy it. We hadn’t planned to go to Greece that year; we wanted to visit my girlfriend’s family in America, so we prepared everything, and then I wanted to check-in at the airport, and the lady behind the counter told me that my passport was not valid anymore, it was just out of date. So that was some stress; we saved just enough money for the trip to America, but it was luckily enough to buy some new tickets to Greece and rent a car for three weeks and stay in the many reasonably priced hotels. It was a little bit stressful to travel without a passport, but it was still in Europe, so it should go alright, and it did. Greece popped in my head when I had to make a quick decision; we had already traveled through Norway for half a day, and my mind was set to go on holiday that day. Greece still had nice weather; it was at the end of September, so that was a plus, and I was always interested in seeing where all these philosophers lived that I know and sometimes read. It was an excellent choice; it was a shame that we couldn’t see her family, but we also learned that we could be flexible together when confronted with bad luck.

Because I show some of my pictures of that trip, I like to combine them with some text of some of the philosophers who lived in Greece 2400 years ago. All these old texts are freely available on the internet, and they are fun to read and stand at the start of western philosophy. The themes they talk about will be refined over and over again by new thinkers and philosophers, and you will recognize many of the questions they asked; well, they put these questions on paper as one of the first, others might have asked these questions before and in other places. The one below is from Aristotle and is called: On sleep and sleeplessness. I personally never think too much about sleep. I know I don’t do it enough, but that is a worry I have had for at least 20 years, so I don’t take it too seriously. Dreaming is something I occasionally think about, but that is because I rarely remember them. However, I somehow know that I have dreamt that particular night but forget it when I open my eyes. The dreams I remember are just fascinating, and I see them just like that. If you ask me why we dream, I would say that it is like defragmenting your hard disk; in our sleep, we see random fragments passing by that are on their way to the right place or the garbage. That we as humans are good at linking random events and thoughts together to a cohesive story makes it for some feasible that their dreams have meaning, I personally see no reason why that should be the case. Still, there is enough to read about if you want to because it is one of those experiences we all share, which is somewhat mysterious.

On sleep and sleeplessness

by Aristotle

With regard to sleep and waking, we must consider what they are: whether they are peculiar to soul or to body, or common to both; and if common, to what part of soul or body they appertain: further, from what cause it arises that they are attributes of animals, and whether all animals share in them both, or some partake of the one only, others of the other only, or some partake of neither and some of both. Further, in addition to these questions, we must also inquire what the dream is, and from what cause sleepers sometimes dream, and sometimes do not; or whether the truth is that sleepers always dream but do not always remember (their dream); and if this occurs, what its explanation is. Again, [we must inquire] whether it is possible or not to foresee the future (in dreams), and if it be possible, in what manner; further, whether, supposing it possible, it extends only to things to be accomplished by the agency of Man, or to those also of which the cause lies in supra-human agency, and which result from the workings of Nature, or of Spontaneity. First, then, this much is clear, that waking and sleep appertain to the same part of an animal, inasmuch as they are opposites, and sleep is evidently a privation of waking. For contraries, in natural as well as in all other matters, are seen always to present themselves in the same subject, and to be affections of the same: examples are-health and sickness, beauty and ugliness, strength and weakness, sight and blindness, hearing and deafness. This is also clear from the following considerations. The criterion by which we know the waking person to be awake is identical with that by which we know the sleeper to be asleep; for we assume that one who is exercising sense-perception is awake, and that every one who is awake perceives either some external movement or else some movement in his own consciousness. If waking, then, consists in nothing else than the exercise of sense-perception, the inference is clear, that the organ, in virtue of which animals perceive, is that by which they wake, when they are awake, or sleep, when they are awake, or sleep, when they are asleep.

Read the rest on Classic Archive.

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