Bergson's theory of dreaming

Patrick McNamara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Bergson's reflections (in "Le Rêve," 1901/1920) on the nature of dreaming anticipated modern cognitivefy-oriented accounts of the dream. According to Bergson dreaming is a selectionist process. When the brain relaxes its inhibitory powers with the onset of sleep, the cognitive system is rapidly flooded with a vast array of memory images. The cognitive system tries to arrange the proliferating memory images into some kind of narrative. A few of these memory images, by chance, roughfy match the affective and physical sensations that still occur in sleep and are "selected" as the raw material for the dream narrative. The discordant assimilation of memory images with the current affective and physical state of the organism constitutes the dream.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-186
Number of pages14
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Bergson
  • Dream formation
  • Memory
  • Philosophy of mind
  • Selectionist theory


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