Einstein's Dreams | Study Guide

Alan Lightman

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Course Hero. "Einstein's Dreams Study Guide." March 30, 2017. Accessed January 18, 2019. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Einsteins-Dreams/.


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Einstein's Dreams | 5 June 1905 | Summary



From a distance this world seems common: rivers flow, shopkeepers hawk their wares, couples smile and argue. But seen through the eyes of any one person this world looks quite different. One woman sees a passing boat speeding by, while another woman sees the same boat as moving impossibly slow. Yet a different man sees the boat as passing one way and then backward. In this world time is a sense, like sight or taste. This means any series of moments can seem quick or slow, salty or sweet, light or dark. Philosophers question whether time even exists outside human perception.


This dream world demonstrates the importance of time as individuals perceive it. Time is a quality rather than a quantity, and "some few people are born without any sense of time." Since in this world time is a unique, individual perception, it cannot be shared with anyone else. Because there are so many discrepancies no one experiences time in the same sensory way. As a consequence it is difficult to share experiences, so people feel more isolated. In various dream worlds people use time as a communal experience to share with each other, a quality fundamental to the happiness of humanity.

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