View of Nature and Science in Perception of Dreams in the Chosun Dynasty

조선시대(朝鮮時代) 꿈(몽(夢)) 인식에서 나타난 자연관(自然觀)과 과학성(科學性)의 성격

  • Published : 2006.12.30


Phenomena experienced by all individuals and cultural interpretation of such phenomena seem to be irrelevant to the change of time. The subject dream to be discussed in this study is one of them. Nevertheless, people's attitude of understanding dreams in the past is obviously different from the contemporary one, and the interpretation of dreams reveals the science of the corresponding age. Bishop Daveluy, a missionary to Chosun in the mid 19th century, observed Korean people's hardly understandable response to dreams. According to his explanation, Chosun people regarded what they saw in a dream as a fact. It might have been quite long that a dream is regarded as a sign of the future. However, how a dream can be a sign of the future is explained different according to the science of the corresponding age. Many records on dreams since the late Koryo Dynasty and the early Chosun Dynasty did not give satisfactory answers to this question. However, new interpretations of dreams were attempted occasionally in the process that the Sung Confucian view of nature in the Chosun Dynasty was being matured. One of such interpretations is that a dream is obviously a phenomenon of human cognition and there is a rule behind dreams. I t was believed that the rule is a flow of energy defined by reason penetrating through the past, the present and the future and, as a consequence, dreams are future oriented. The view that a dream is a phenomenon with a causal relation is observed more specifically in medicine. I t was understood basically as a pathological phenomenon but, at the same time, a substance in an organic relation with the human body. In addition, it was understood as the results of facts (physiological and pathological processes) experienced by the body in the past and the sign of diseases in the future. However, from the viewpoint of contemporary science based on empirical rationalism, such foreseeability is fundamentally unacceptable. In contemporary science, in which scientific analysis of phenomena has to be of the past tense, dreams exist as the representations of the past. What Bishop Daveluy saw in Korean people was a phenomenon observed when the pre modern met the modern as pre modern people's life and idea were viewed from a modern people's eye.