III. Philosophy

``Oh tell me where is fancy bred,
Or in the heart or in the head?''          - Shakespeare
There is a single tenet which holds true for all the philosophies in Oneiros: that the universe is a dream, the inner workings of a mind. The people you talk to are facets of its personality; the objects you touch are the imaginings of its sleep-ridden mind.

In more detail, the intellectual nations have come to recognize principles of the dream in more detail. There are four elements which are widely recognized, and eight laws associated with them. Some believe in other elements or laws, but these four and eight remain more or less constant:

  1. Memory is held by some to be the strongest element. It is knowledge of all sorts - all that which exists has its basis in memory. Memory is inconceivably vast and fluid - it is knowledge but not logic or associations. It moves, grows, flows between categories. Thus it is associated with the sea and water.
    The two laws of Memory are:
        The Law of Knowledge: ``To know and to control are the same''
        The Law of Mnemonics: ``The more you know, the more you know.''

  2. Thought is next element. It is the order on which the world is constructed. It includes physics and logic, but it is also much more. It covers all forms of linear thought - illogical or instinctive, conscious or unconcious. Thought is all dynamics; it governs how substance moves, interacts, and changes. Thus it is associated with the land, as it is the structure of the world.
    The two laws of Thought are:
        The Law of Reflection: ``Self-contemplation is the path to perfection.''
        The Law of Abstraction: ``That without is also within.''

  3. Artifice is the element of creativity, commonly held to be the third strongest in the chain. Unlike Thought, Artifice comes out of nothing. It is spontaneous change, responsible for creation of new ideas and the destruction of old ones. Where Thought is physics, Artifice is fire and alchemy. It is sometimes called Synthesis, and is associated with fire, lightning, earthquake, volcano, and other catasrophe.
    The two laws of Artifice are:
        The Law of Conception: ``To imagine and to create are the same.''
        The Law of Belief: ``New creations are nameless: shaped by their environs.''

  4. Temperament is connection beyond the individual, commonly believed the weakest element. While Thought covers the scale of minute action, Temperament deals with general ideas which run through all things. It is about moods and trends, similarity and association. Thus it is associated with the weather.
    The two laws of Artifice are:
        The Law of Essence: ``Equality is illusion, singularity real.''
        The Law of Personification: ``That which is, is mind.''

More detailed explanation of the laws and their import can be found in the chapter describing magic.

Substance and Essence

How the world is formed of these elements is more tricky. The common way of understanding this is through the dichotomy of Substance and Essence. Substance is the detail and minutia of an object, its inherent properties. Essence is the wider picture, how the thing relates to what is around it.

The Substance of an object is the base concepts which are unique to it, which distinguish it from all other objects. A stone which you see and feel is really just the idea of a stone, the sum of its shape, size, weight, and texture.

In Oneiros, however, the substance of an object is defined by its complexity and detail, not by its physical size. Objects which are plain will have less substance than objects which are ornate, for example. Thus, a generic object like a blank notebook is a minor idea in the fabric of the Dream, and its substance is no more than a brief description. On the other hand, a notebook filled with notes and drawings of a great thinker will be invested with much greater importance in the Dream.

Essence is


Humans, however, are even more than just their substance and essence, because unlike inanimate objects, humans dream. This means that they are in some way participants in the action of universe. Thus, a person's thoughts can not only control his own actions, but can also influence the activity of the outside world.

This spark of consciousness is beyond the realm of the four elements. Some claim it as a fifth element, but more often it is held to be a class of its own and invested with deep religious importance. While magic can bind your actions and transform your substance, nothing can influence how you dream or imagine.

John H. Kim <jhkim-at-darkshire-dot-net>
Last modified: Sun Nov 10 10:34:23 2002