24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 3 September 2008
I read this book when I was a teenager and it blew my mind. Over the years, I almost forgot about it, and it seemed vaguely like it must have been science fiction. But I just came across a copy in a second hand shop and read it again, and it is still mind-blowing. But even more amazing, even though it was written 80 years ago it fits right in with current ideas like those of Julian Barbour and David Deutsch. Maybe there is no difference between time and the other dimensions and we live in a "block universe" where the past and future are just different places. Maybe my teenage self is still out there getting his mind blown by this book for the first time! If you are intrigued by modern ideas in quantum physics, read this as well!
53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on 25 September 2003
Dunne is a seminal figure in the gentleman-scientist tradition. A trained engineer, he was fascinated by a striking precognitive dream and conducted experiments on himself and with his friends that established that they all routinely dreamed about both past and future events. While his work was done without experimental controls, it established a prima facie case for lab work on precognition that got done half a century later.
The Rev. Norman Crowder lent me a copy of this in the 1960s. I accepted Dunne’s reports of his experiments at face value. Lab work since (See Rupert Sheldrake, "The Sense of Being Stared at") confirms Dunne’s reports.
Dunne goes on to discuss the implications for the nature of consciousness. How does consciousness have to be for this kind of precognition to be possible? Popularisations of Einstein's work were appearing in the 20s by eg James Jeans. Dunne imagines a human life as a 4-dimensional 'worm' through space-time, and speculates that consciousness has some kind of relationship to the whole line, but that waking consciousness consists of tightening the focus to the present, that is to say, to the present conceived of as a point traversing the worm.
In the 1960s I baulked at this line of thinking as wildly speculative. Thirty-forty years on, with more evidence in from both parapsychology and quantum physics, it looks less wild. The Mind-Body question is alive and kicking still.
In summary: Dunne is first-rate. Readable, provocative and like Sheldrake, describes simple experiments you can perform yourself. And unforgettable. (I haven't seen a copy in years.)
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Some strange, apparently precognitive, dreams led J.W. Dunne to devise an experiment which proved (to him) that our unconscious thought draws its raw material from both the future and the past. He then came up with a theory of Time which might account for this. The experiment and the explanatory theory form the two halves of this book.
Dunne is rarely mentioned, except as a footnote, in modern works on the philosophy of Time. His theory is somewhat eccentric but nevertheless a fascinating introduction to the questions that arise when we think about Time. A key question is "How do we time Time?". We think of Time as flowing, as a movement of events from future to past. But how is this concept meaningful unless we can talk about a rate of movement, and how would we measure such a rate? In seconds per second? That would surely be nonsense.
The only way to make sense of our conscious Time, T, (says Dunne) is to propose a second dimension of Time, T', by which to measure the flow of T. This T' dimension bears the same relation to conscious Time as the third dimension of Space bears to the first two - i.e., someone who inhabits or can access T' would have a privileged overview of our conscious Time, both past and future.
It is this T' dimension that our unconscious mind is accessing when we have precognitive dreams (and Dunne believed that we all have such dreams, but that we forget them by the time the future event that is the source of the dream occurs). The most obvious problem with his theory is that it leads to an infinite regress: a Time dimension T'' to make sense of T', then a dimension T''', and so on.
There's a lot more to Dunne's theory, and the book, though technical in the second part, is written with care and clarity. The first part reads almost like a sci-fi novel, and may have you shaking your head in disbelief or even perhaps trying the experiment yourself.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 13 December 2012
A thoroughly enjoyable and insightful book. Recommended for readers who like imaginative ideas backed up by experience. Particularly liked the concept of past, present and future time being experienced simultaneously.
on 11 August 2013
Read Buchan's a Gap in the Curtain which was inspired by this book. It is in parts hard going, for no matter how simplified the language is for the non scientist interested in this are of thought, it remains a scientific document, but one which O am determined to read to the end.
on 22 April 2013
Many people have had what they like to call 'spooky' experiences relating to picking up vibes, or having a feeling about something happening. Read this, and learn more. No spooky at all. Quite explainable, but takes you to the limit of your conscious awareness.