Conference 18 Abstracts
Association for the Study of Dreams 
Dream Odyssey
UCSC Santa Cruz, California, USA



Lucid Dreaming and the Phenomenological Epoché

E. W. Kellogg III, Ph.D.

1. TYPE OF PRESENTATION: ORAL PAPER. 20 minute presentation. This paper belongs in the philosophy and/or the phenomenology of dreaming categories, and if possible I would like to present it with papers of a similar nature. (Note: I've presented in ASD poster sessions in the past, and they seemed very badly timed (in competition with much more popular events), in hard to find locations, and poorly attended - which made presenting ones work at a poster session almost worse than not presenting at all. Obviously I would vastly prefer an oral presentation format if at all possible.)


"Lucid Dreaming and the Phenomenological Epoché "


E. W. Kellogg III, Ph.D., The Phenomenological Laboratory, Ashland, Oregon.

Ed Kellogg earned his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Duke University. A proficient lucid dreamer himself, he has a long-standing interest in the phenomenology of dreaming. He has presented numerous papers and workshops on such topics as the lucidity continuum, lucid dream healing, lucid dream incubation, out-of-body experiences, and the use of magic in lucid dream reality.

Researchers minimally define a lucid dream as one where dreamers realize that they dream, while they dream. However, dream lucidity also correlates with an increased awareness of previously unquestioned assumptions, similar to that required in performing the suspension of judgment of the natural attitude required by the phenomenological epoché.

A. Three Learning Objectives:
1. Participants will learn about the "natural attitude", and how the covert assumptions and prejudices inherent in this attitude can distort perception while dreaming, and later during dream recall;
2. Participants will learn the basics of the epoché (the transcendental phenomenological reduction), and how they can apply it to their dreamwork;
3. Participants will learn how dream lucidity requires a kind of partial epoché, and how completing the epoché while dreaming can bring about a deeper and more developed type of lucidity in the phenomenological attitude.

B. Three Evaluation Questions:
1. What characteristics best describe "the natural attitude"?
2. In what ways might "the natural attitude" apply more to ordinary dreams than to lucid dreams?
3. How might the epoché (the transcendental phenomenological reduction), and the phenomenological attitude that results from its application, bring about a deeper and more developed type of lucidity?

Researchers minimally define a lucid dream as one where dreamers realize that they dream, while they dream. Some additionally require that a truly lucid dreamer must also enjoy powers of intellect, memory, and will, that approximate those of the everyday physical reality waking state (1). The idea of "lucid dreaming" poses an existential challenge to many in our culture, as evidenced by the fact that until recently mainstream psychology viewed this phrase as a contradiction in terms. However, since about 1981 the research of LaBerge and others has established the phenomenon of lucid dreaming in the realm of scientific fact (2,3,4,) and in doing so has validated and brought attention to an exciting new field for phenomenological work (5).

The phenomenological movement began in large part with the seminal work of Edmund Husserl, although many others continue this work today. Many existentialists, including Martin Heidegger and Jean-Paul Sartre, based much of their work upon the foundation that Husserl established (6). In essence, one could describe phenomenology as a method (not a "philosophy") that aims at clearly seeing, and rigorously describing, the essential structures of one's lifeworld, including all aspects of consciousness and experience. To accomplish this, phenomenologists perform the epoché (or transcendental phenomenological reduction ) which involves a fundamental shift in perspective by suspending judgment in the "thesis of the natural attitude" (7). Basically, this meta-schema describes our ordinary everyday attitude towards the world. For example, the judgments that we live physically as human beings in "objective reality", that physical objects exist independent of our awareness of them, that events juxtaposed in space-time exist in some sort of a cause and effect relationship, and that we experience a "physical universe" directly and without significant distortion.

In ordinary dreams most of us continue to hold onto the usual assumptions of the natural attitude. In becoming lucid, the dreamer brings at least one of these assumptions to a halt - that their experience occurs in an objective, physical world. However, this major insight only begins the task of a true epoché, as the dreamer still operates through a residuum of unquestioned assumptions left over from the natural attitude. By looking at the degree to which one has made covert assumptions overt , one can evaluate the degree of lucidity attained. The pervasive nature of hidden assumptions and prejudgments inherent in even the simplest act of perception has special importance to anyone attempting to unravel the nature and characteristics of dreaming. In this respect, a properly applied epoché can have extraordinary value for the dreamworker by reducing covert assumptions, as well as in serving as a model for the lucidity process itself. By directly applying the phenomenological epoché to dream experience while dreaming, one can bring lucidity into the apodictical realm and better understand the nature of dreaming while observing it in situ. To illustrate this point, the author will describe several dreams in which he applied the epoché while dreaming, and some of the bizarre but illuminating experiences that followed.

1. Tart, Charles (1985). What do we mean by "lucidity"? Lucidity Letter, 4(2), 12-17
2. LaBerge, S, Nagel, L., Dement, W., and Zarcone, V. (1981). Lucid dreaming verified by volitional communication during REM sleep. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 52, 727-732.
3. LaBerge, S. (1985). Lucid Dreaming: The Power of Being Awake and Aware in your Dreams. Los Angeles, Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc.
4. LaBerge, S., and Rheingold, H. (1990). Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming. New York, Ballantine Books.
5.. Kellogg III, E. W. (1989). Mapping Territories: A Phenomenology of Lucid Dream Reality. Lucidity Letter, 8(2), 81 - 97.
6. Zaner, Richard M. (1970) The Way of Phenomenology: Criticism as a Philosophical Discipline, New York, Pegasus Books.
7. Husserl, Edmund (translated by Dorion Cairns) (1973a). Cartesian Meditations: An Introduction to Phenomenology, The Hague, Netherlands, Martinus Nijhoff.
Husserl, Edmund (edited by L. Landgrebe, translated by J. S. Churchill and K. Ameriks) (1973b). Experience and Judgment: Investigations in a Genealogy of Logic, Evanston, Northwestern University Press, 340 -348.


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