Is It All A Dream? Phil 2003 H Second Essay Brandy L. Davis Is it All a Dream? In Descartes Meditations, he attempts to outline his philosophical views of the mind and body. Descartes knows that over the course of his life, he inadvertently accepted many false beliefs (and their falsity infected other beliefs which he based on them). He decides to sort through his beliefs, discard all the questionable ones, and retain only a perfectly secure basis: some beliefs whose truth is beyond doubt. He begins by doubting all that he knows and all that he feels in order that he may be absolutely certain when he claims to have knowledge of anything. One of his initial methods of skepticism is to doubt everything that comes to him via the sensual world.
In order to do this, he suggests the possibility that he is always in a dream state. Descartes remembers that sometimes when he is dreaming, he falsely believes that he’s awake. And, reflecting on this, Descartes thinks he can’t ever tell whether or not he’s dreaming. Maybe it’s all just a dream. If it were a dream, everything would seem just the same. Thus, every bit of knowledge about the world that he gained would be false.
Descartes introduces the argument in his first meditation, but never fully explains his reasons for dismissing it. Finally, at the end of his last meditation (VI), he offers a response to this early concern. Descartes claims to have found a marked difference between the states of dreaming and wakefulness. He adheres to the notion that memory is not linked and able to connect dreams in sequential order as it is able to do with waking states. Additionally, he concludes that if he is able to connect something, be it inanimate or animate, to its past present and future occurrence or appearance in his life, then he is definitely awake.
He feels that such ability is not possible in the dream state. Finally, he states that if he has exhausted all his abilities and brought all of his senses and faculties to bear on the satisfactory conclusion of the argument, and he still concludes that he can determine he is awake, then he must be. This is supported by the idea that his senses and faculties would be simultaneously deceiving him if he were dreaming and was certain of the opposite. Since God is his creator, he would necessarily be a deceiver if he allowed his creations to be so falsely made that they could be completely deceived by the instruments He provided them. Additionally, because of his refutation of the God is a Deceiver claim, he knows he is not dreaming. In order for Descartes to be able to make the claim that doubting if one is dreaming is not a serious doubt, he was first required to establish the following premises: God exists, God is the creator of everything, God is not a deceiver, errors in perceptions come from the misuse of the senses, and premature assumptions are the effect of errors in perception. This, I believe, is why he did not go into great detail on his dismissal of the possibility that he was dreaming in the first Meditation. For instance, it would be impossible (following Descartes logic) to explain why we would automatically dismiss the claim that 2+2=5 without first establishing the following ideas: numbers exist, they can be put together and their values increased, and that if you put them together in the same ways, you will always end with the same value. I have many issues with Descartes response to the claim that whether one is dreaming or not is a viable doubt.
Most of them center around his unsatisfactory evidence for the existence of God. However, I have been instructed not to pursue them, so I will refrain. The conclusions he makes about this argument are unconvincing to me, as are all his other conclusions. I will attempt to support my rebuttal of his claims. My first problem is with his conclusion that our memory cant connect our dreams with each other and with the course of life.
This, in my experience, is completely false. I am constantly certain of aspects of my childhood in which I have memories of the occurrence from beginning to end and contextual information which thoroughly supports the fact that the event occurred. However, upon describing the event and time frame to those who, I recall, experienced it with me, I am informed that said event never happened. These aspects were only dreams. Yet they were dreams so vivid and realistic that I retain them as memories.
Thus, at a given time, I did use all my faculties and senses to ascertain that the event was factual. However, later on (even years later) I find that I was in error. Therefore, the question poses itself: Did God, the non-deceiver, create me such that I could deceive myself unwittingly? On another note, given the situation of one of, if not the, most famous paintings in current society, the Mona Lisa, one must re-evaluate the assumption that errors in perception stem from misuse of the senses. For instance, there are five separate paintings of the Mona Lisa which have all been credited with being the original, authentic masterpiece by professionals. However, to assume that any one of these people are guilty of misusing their faculties or senses in any way, is preposterous. Each one used everything available to them, in order to identify the authenticity of the painting.
Yet, the argument remains unsolved. Thus, there is an obvious error in perception which is in no way linked to misuse of the senses. Another problem that I have with Descartes is that he claims that the senses are only deceptive when things are far away or in the distance, and a closer look will uncover the deception. However, how do we know that the closer look isn’t a deception? How do I know that I am not now in bed dreaming? You don’t know that you are dreaming until you wake up, so you can never know for sure if you are dreaming, because I could be dreaming that I am dreaming, and so on. Philosophy Essays.