Saturday, February 14, 2009


Here is a quick argument that sleep is bad in some respects. Sleep either involves unconsciousness or non-veridical experiences. Unconsciousness is bad, since it is the lack of consciousness, which is a good, and a good due to our nature as rational. Non-veridical experiences are clearly a bad. So, sleep always is bad in some respects.

Whether this argument succeeds or not (I think it doesn't; from our nature as rational beings it does not follow that it is our nature to always exercise rationality), it does raise a question about the value of sleep. Clearly, sleep is instrumentally good. Is it good non-instrumentally, though? And will we sleep after the resurrection of the body? As one of our grad students pointed out, Scripture considers sleep analogical to death. There are also positive portrayals of wakefulness. So when death is no more, will there be sleep? Aquinas thinks not.


Adam said...

You touch on an interesting point that I too have considered. In my studies, I'm becoming more and more convinced that 'Hell' should be thought of more in terms of "the Second Death" than anything else. And that the Second Death should be thought of roughly in terms of the first death (i.e. Sheol). And that Sheol should be thought of in terms of the "state of being dead." And that the "state of being dead" should be thought of in terms of sleep. And that this 'sleep' may entail a dreamlike state of consciousness--a sort of 'reality of unreality.'

Drew Mazanec said...

"So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man"

-Genesis 2:21-22

Sleep, what a terrible thing.