Friday, 3rd July, 2009

broadcast

“I am prolix, and I fear tedious, in treating of the sensory; but it is a point of some consequence, and this ingenious Author’s scheme principally turns on the supposition of its being shut up during sleep, from the soul’s inspection; whereby he divests it of memory, and thence infers it of memory, and thence infers the necessity of receiving all the materials of our dreams from foreign agents. I am induced to conjecture, that he found himself a little pressed by Mr. Locke’s arguments against the soul’s perpetual thinking, but that it sometimes nods with the body, which has an aspect of making them too nearly related; and perfectly to get over this difficulty (which he has otherwise, with much success attempted) he deemed it proper to detach the soul from having the least dependence on the body as to dreams, by drawing a veil over the sensory in sleep; whereby too, the irrationality charged on our sleeping thoughts cannot be attributed to our wanting the assistance of the body, as tho’ we owed the perfection of thinking thereto; but must be occasioned by spirits, who obtrude on us what we then think about. But I cannot help apprehending, that tho’ his Hypothosis makes the soul sometimes active, whilst the body sleeps, and its thoughts at that time independent on the body; yet it renders the view of the sensory so necessary to thinking, that, should the soul, deprived of its aid, be at the same time unoccupied by spirits, it might, nay must, as soundly nod, as by the other supposition.”

Thomas Branch, Thoughts on Dreaming, (London: R. Dodsley, 1738) pp. 25-6.

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