UCL News


UCL Bookshelf: 'Dream, Death, and the Self', by J J Valberg

19 July 2007

A new book by Dr Jerry Valberg, a former senior lecturer at UCL Philosophy, looks at the age-old philosophical question: what if life were just a dream? In 'Dream, Death, and the Self', Dr Valberg's argument runs that, if life were a dream, the subject matter of the dream would be a 'personal horizon', within which everything each of us knows exists.

Each of us lies at the centre of our own personal horizon, and the horizon ends with death. Dr Valberg contends that, at death, the personal horizon does not just cease to be for the individual, but for everything. Yet, because this situation is the same for everyone, it cannot be - so death confronts us with an impossibility: what cannot happen, will happen.

In this way, Professor Valberg brings together two key philosophical questions - about dreaming and death - by linking them in a theory of personal identity. It is one of a number of existential puzzles that the book grapples with.

'Dream, Death, and the Self' is published by Princeton University Press.