Are humans the only dreamers on Earth? What goes on in the minds of animals when they sleep? When Animals Dream brings together behavioral and neuroscientific research on animal sleep with philosophical theories of dreaming. It shows that dreams provide an invaluable window into the cognitive and emotional lives of nonhuman animals, giving us access to a seemingly inaccessible realm of animal experience.
David Peña-Guzmán uncovers evidence of animal dreaming throughout the scientific literature, suggesting that many animals run “reality simulations” while asleep, with a dream-ego moving through a dynamic and coherent dreamscape. He builds a convincing case for animals as conscious beings and examines the thorny scientific, philosophical, and ethical questions it raises. Once we accept that animals dream, we incur a host of moral obligations and have no choice but to rethink our views about who animals are and the interior lives they lead.
A mesmerizing journey into the otherworldly domain of nonhuman consciousness, When Animals Dream carries profound implications for contemporary debates about animal cognition, animal ethics, and animal rights, challenging us to regard animals as beings who matter, and for whom things matter.
Awards and Recognition
- Winner of the PROSE Award in Philosophy, Association of American Publishers
"I can recommend [this book] to anyone who cares about animals."—Barbara J. King, Times Literary Supplement
"An intellectual tour de force . . . . this book will change minds."—Simon Ings, New Scientist
"[An] intriguing book. . . . Scientists have always speculated about the inner worlds of animals; Peña-Guzmán offers a novel, and poetic, way in."—Camille Bromley, The Atlantic
"Amiable, lucid, and concise. . . . Peña-Guzmán addresses his own conjectures with a winning frankness."—Laura Miller, Slate
"When Animals Dream is a fascinating, challenging, and thought-provoking book that gives human exceptionalism a philosophically-grounded middle finger."—Leon Vlieger, Inquisitive Biologist
"Recommended."—J.A. Mather, Choice
“When Animals Dream ranges from fascinating to thrilling. A very accessible, penetrating, thought-provoking book that makes us see other-than-human minds in a whole new light.”—Carl Safina, author of Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel and Becoming Wild
“Octopuses dream. Rats suffer nightmares. Chimps trained in sign language ‘talk’ in their sleep. This revelatory book shows us that animals’ minds, like ours, are gloriously nimble, vivid, and complex, even during sleep. This is thrilling, essential reading for all of us seeking to expand our understanding of the wonder of consciousness.”—Sy Montgomery, New York Times bestselling author of The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness
“When Animals Dream is a revolutionary book. Peña-Guzmán convincingly shows that animals as diverse as rats, monkeys, and octopuses dream, and that sometimes scientists can even tell us what they dream about. This beautiful book opens a window into the fascinating mental and emotional world-building abilities of animals, inviting us to see that we must treat animals much better than we do.”—Barbara J. King, author of Animals’ Best Friends: Putting Compassion to Work for Animals in Captivity and in the Wild
“In this exciting book, Peña-Guzmán helps readers come to see that differences in animal minds do not preclude our recognizing animals as morally valuable beings. Seeing other animals as dreamers allows us to ask new questions about what it might be like to be them and to wonder about the stuff of their dreams.”—Lori Gruen, author of Ethics and Animals: An Introduction
“When Animals Dream is a very important book that closes the door on some questions about animal minds, but more importantly opens many others for further transdisciplinary discussions about the rich inner lives and moral significance of nonhumans. Peña-Guzmán clearly shows that the question at hand isn’t if animals dream, but rather why dreaming evolved as it has and what it’s good for.”—Marc Bekoff, coauthor of The Animals’ Agenda and A Dog’s World