Einstein's Dreams | Study Guide

Alan Lightman

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Course Hero. "Einstein's Dreams Study Guide." March 30, 2017. Accessed December 16, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Einsteins-Dreams/.


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Einstein's Dreams | 22 June 1905 | Summary



On graduation day 129 boys wait in the sun while their headmaster calls each on stage one by one. Everyone seems listless and uninspired. After graduation some attend university while some travel or work. But all the boys take their paths indifferently and mechanically because time in this world is rigid rather than fluid, "fossilizing the future as well as the past." Everything has been predetermined, and people's movements are not their own. They cannot change their path; they can only observe it. In this world there is no right or wrong, only a fixed future, which implies there is no freedom of choice.


This dream world shows perhaps shows most powerfully the effect of free will, or lack thereof. In a predetermined world such as this, people lose their sense of right and wrong; "right and wrong demand freedom of choice, but if each action is already chosen, there can be no freedom of choice." With this dream world, Lightman also shows people prefer the illusion of free will to keep their lives interesting. The Dream Figures in this world are bored and merely going through the motions of their predetermined lives, forced to become mere observers of their actions rather than the agents.

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