UPDATE: Corrected, with many thanks for the comment below

Dear Dr. Boli: How can I progress from ordinary sleep into slumbering dogmatically? —Sincerely, “cs.”

Dear Sir or Madam: Dogmatic slumber, that easy and comfortable state of resting on one’s unexamined assump­tions, has been shown in multiple studies to be greatly desirable for promoting health of mind and body. Fortunately most people have little trouble achieving this state, and indeed many are seldom roused from it. If, however, you are one of those miserable unfortunates who suffer from dogmatic insomnia, or a perpetual restless examination of what most people take for granted, only a change in habits is likely to bring relief.

The works of David Hume are frequently blamed in cases of dogmatic insomnia, but unjustly so. The problem is not in the works themselves, but in our employment of them. In particular Hume’s Treatise of Human Nature, a weighty tome in every sense, is often misused. The mistake most sufferers have made is to open the book and read it, exposing themselves to the disturbing ideas in the text. If, however, when you retire for the evening, you instruct one of the servants to smack you forcefully on the head with the book, you will be virtually assured of a good eight hours of dogmatic slumber.


  1. dlc says:

    Locke, not Hume, wrote Essay on Human Understanding (which Kant took to be a paradigm of dogmatism, btw).

    • Dr. Boli says:

      You are correct, of course. In a moment of distraction, Dr. Boli scribbled the title of Locke’s famous work instead of the Treatise of Human Nature, whose title, you must admit, is very similar, at least in that it includes the word “human.” One’s secretary is supposed to take care of these things, but one’s secretary’s gout has been bothering him lately, and Dr. Boli believes in being understanding to his employees in their times of difficulty. The correction has now been made, and many thanks for bringing it to our attention.

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