John William Dunne (1875–1949) Life Highlights
From an early age, he was interested in scientific areas, and inspired by a Jules Verne novel, at the age of 13, he envisioned a flying machine that needed no steering.
Dunne created the first practical and stable tailless aircraft, which also first used the swept-wing planform.
Through years of experimentation with precognitive dreams and hypnagogic states Dunne posited that our experience of time as linear was an illusion brought about by human consciousness. Dunne argued that past, present and future were in fact simultaneous and only experienced sequentially because of our mental perception of them. It was his belief that in the dream state, the mind was not shackled in this way and was able to perceive events in the past and future with equal facility.
Dunne's landmark An Experiment with Time (1927) recounts his own experiments with dreaming, from which he concluded that precognitive elements frequently occur in dreams.
An Experiment with Time is a long essay by the Irish aeronautical engineer J. W. Dunne (1875 — 1949) on the subjects of precognition and the human experience of time.
Dunne's theory is, simply put, that all moments in time are taking place at once, at the same time. For example, if a cat were to spend its whole entire life living in a box, anyone looking into the box could see the cat's birth, life and death in the same instant - were it not for the human consciousness, which means that we perceive at a fixed rate.
According to Dunne, whilst human consciousness prevents us from seeing outside of the part of time we are "meant" to look at, whilst we are dreaming we have the ability to traverse all of time without the restriction of consciousness, leading to pre-cognitive dreams, resulting in the phenomena known as Deja vu. Henceforth, Dunne believes that we are existing in two parallel states, which requires a complete rethink of the way that we understand time.
In An Experiment with Time, Dunne discusses how a theoretical ability to perceive events outside the normal observer's stream of consciousness might be proved to exist. He also discusses some of the possible other explanations of this effect, such as déjà vu.
He proposes that observers should place themselves in environments where consciousness might best be freed and then, immediately upon their waking, note down the memories of what had been dreamed, together with the date. Later, these notes should be scanned, with possible connections drawn between them and real life events that occurred after the notes had been written.
In an article in the New Scientist in 1983 it was reported that Dunne had written a book just before his death admitting that he was a medium and a believer in spiritualism, the article reports that Dunne had deliberately chosen to leave this out of his An Experiment with Time book as he judged that it would have affected the reception of his theory.