3
   

Descartes and our perceived reality...

 
 
Reply Mon 13 Sep, 2010 10:24 pm
For the past week and a half or so my philosophy professor has been talking to us about Descartes. Along with talking to us, we have been reading and listening to online material. The one argument that Descartes put forth that has had me thinking though is the fact that reality could, in fact, be a dream. I have been trying to imagine a place where that dream would start as of late and I think I have come up with a decent beginning.

When you are born, you don't remember it, your parents do, but you don't. You have pictures to remind you of what you were like as an infant, but cognitively, there is nothing that you remember for at least 2 or 3 years after your birth. So, if we were to look back at all of our memories and try to pick out the very first one that we can recall, a very difficult task in and of itself, I am sure that the memory would be of something that happened to us with others around, but we would have a feeling of being dropped right into the center of a "dream," so to speak, like the thing that is happening in our memory is so far removed from us it happened to a different person.

Isn't this similar to the experience you have when you dream? You are just dropped into the center of said dream, and don't know when or where it began. If it is a dream, then yes, it is exactly the same. But then you run into the issue of your mother actually giving birth to you. So maybe I am trying to think of this too literally.
  • Topic Stats
  • Top Replies
  • Link to this Topic
Type: Question • Score: 3 • Views: 2,395 • Replies: 12
No top replies

 
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Sep, 2010 08:30 am
@chopkins,
chopkins wrote:

. The one argument that Descartes put forth that has had me thinking though is the fact that reality could, in fact, be a dream.


If reality is but a dream, then what is a dream?
mickalos
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Sep, 2010 11:31 am
@chopkins,
chopkins wrote:

For the past week and a half or so my philosophy professor has been talking to us about Descartes. Along with talking to us, we have been reading and listening to online material. The one argument that Descartes put forth that has had me thinking though is the fact that reality could, in fact, be a dream. I have been trying to imagine a place where that dream would start as of late and I think I have come up with a decent beginning.

When you are born, you don't remember it, your parents do, but you don't. You have pictures to remind you of what you were like as an infant, but cognitively, there is nothing that you remember for at least 2 or 3 years after your birth. So, if we were to look back at all of our memories and try to pick out the very first one that we can recall, a very difficult task in and of itself, I am sure that the memory would be of something that happened to us with others around, but we would have a feeling of being dropped right into the center of a "dream," so to speak, like the thing that is happening in our memory is so far removed from us it happened to a different person.

Isn't this similar to the experience you have when you dream? You are just dropped into the center of said dream, and don't know when or where it began. If it is a dream, then yes, it is exactly the same. But then you run into the issue of your mother actually giving birth to you. So maybe I am trying to think of this too literally.

If you accept the cartesian notion of mind, conceiving it as some kind of inner theatre where "impressions" are played out, then memories, dreams and experience would have little to differentiate them from the subject's point of view (hence cartesian scepticism). However, when you consider what it is actually like to remember something, I think this notion of the mind falls apart. If I ask you to remember what you had for lunch yesterday, no doubt you will be able to answer me correctly and immediately, however, clearly you do not see yesterday's dinner with your "mind's eye". Indeed, how on earth does one see and "inner picture"? All that you see when your interlocutor asks you what you had for lunch yesterday is your interlocutor standing before you, and yet somehow you can give the correct answer anyway. Perhaps sometimes you cannot remember, but this surely is not because you've failed to find the relevant inner film reel, it's more a matter of just not knowing what to say.

On dreaming, the vivid impressions of dreams the one gets in literature or some peoples accounts is not akin to anything I've experienced. That's not to say that when I sleep I only have vague, blurry images running through my head. When I sleep I don't have any images or thoughts running through my head at all, I'm unconscious. However, when I wake up, sometimes I certainly have 'memory phenomena', I have impressions of having experienced something in the past, but I fail to see how they could possibly be real memories; nothing happened to me while I was asleep. That is to say, when I say "I dreamed X", the truth of this statement is determined by a fact about me when I wake up rather than a fact about me when I was asleep. Consider, could there be any difference between what it seems to me that I dreamed when I awake, and what I actually dreamed? If one is shaken awake by somebody who then asks you "What did you dream while you were asleep?" Would it make any sense for you to say, "I don't remember"? Surely, it would be better to say that you didn't dream.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Sep, 2010 01:05 pm
@mickalos,
All very profound. But this is what you wrote:

. The one argument that Descartes put forth that has had me thinking though is the fact that reality could, in fact, be a dream.

And I asked you whether if you think that reality could itself be a dream, then what would a dream be? I was wondering whether since you seemed to give your speculation some importance, whether you could reply to my question.

I very often do not remember my dreams. In fact, most of the time. But I do remember that I dreamed. What would make you think that if I don't remember what I dreamed that would be because I did not dream?
north
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Nov, 2010 10:09 pm

some can control their dreams though

this has implications
0 Replies
 
RonCdeWeijze
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Nov, 2010 05:52 pm
@kennethamy,
Quote:
If you think that reality could itself be a dream, then what would a dream be?

It would be a dream within a dream, or dreaming that you dream. As normal dreams are reality unprocessed, now under ideal circumstances to get processed at the end of the day, such an extraordinary dream could deal with the remains of it, using even more degrees of freedom to get hardest problems solved.
0 Replies
 
merlin13
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Jan, 2011 06:27 pm
I am thinking that what Descartes meant has nothing to do with the visual imagery we receive during our sleeping periods in comparison with the visual imagery of mundane existence. What he possibly intended was the same shared principle of thinking. In that every day experience we call reality, we are driven by whims, false beliefs, emotions, crazy denial of what really is, reconstructing the picture we see to fit our own expectations or needs etc. In that, the inner reality of most of us is similar to the way we jump into fantastic scenarios at night, without good reason for it. Descartes always considered the thinking capacity first and foremost, so I think that is what was meant by the similarity.
As far as what can then a dream be, it is probably more of the same, with a critical faculty entirely disabled when the experience draws us in. Maybe not very deep, but fitting to describe my own memory of dreams at least:)
0 Replies
 
G H
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Jan, 2011 09:08 pm
@chopkins,
Quote:
The one argument that Descartes put forth that has had me thinking though is the fact that reality could, in fact, be a dream.

In oneirocosmism ("world-dreaming"), the dream is a process that self-perpetuates itself from moment to moment without an external dreamer, similar to how the closed system of nature maintains its regularities over time without the need of a supernatural lawgiver or cause. But in solipsism the "dream" is given a metempirical owner and reduced to single, embodied point of view -- this POV acquiring embodiment in a newly born avatar each time the former identity dies. That is, if the whack-a-doodle solipsist desires eternal experiences.

In the end, though, one should ditch useless oneirocosmic speculations and settle for the materialist "natural order" and its universe that exists without manifestation (except in the perceptions of functioning brains or their potential technological slash extraterrestrial equivalents). I mean, do researchers really want to deal with the futile silliness of "what the dream would be like" when only rocks, atoms, lifeless planets, etc., were available as points of view? Or what an overarching perspective or "global feeling" minus any embodiment would be like (a view from nowhere)?
0 Replies
 
Tifinden
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 May, 2011 07:28 am
@chopkins,
Descartes was very wise, however it seems that much of his methodology was based on irrationality- of course, opinion varies, as mine did simply a minute previously. Descartes suggests that we must construct a foundational basis for knowledge by abandoning previous assumptions, opinions and all commonly perceived and accepted knowledge in the world. This method then is divulged to allow us to perceive that Descartes wishes to become an undeniable master of his own knowledge by diligently studying and analyzing the proportional connection between every dimension of the knowledge which he studies. Through maxims and policy, Descartes begins to found a resolute systematic function to uncover knowledge himself, which will then lead to opinion, which he may then aggregate into fact. Hereby, Descartes is loosening the restraint of the old world and its pitiful opinions and views, and he springs into a realm of undeniable comprehension and understanding. through understanding this interconnectivity, Descartes suggests that we might learn of truths which transcend normalcy. In conclusion, if Descartes wishes to suggest that there is a dream world, which we inhabit constantly, then I might be the second to last person to attempt to belie this proposal- it all factors into Descartes distaste for the olden architecture, and his relish and appeasing aptitude for advanced structures, and fortified infrastructure.
0 Replies
 
Alan Masterman
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 May, 2011 12:07 pm
@kennethamy,
Hi Kenneth,

First of all, the analogy you draw between dreaming and being born is just that - an analogy. Why can philosophers never understand that analogy is NOT a proof of anything? If you want to show that the experience of birth has any comparative significance with the experience of dreaming (or vice versa), you still have all of your arguing to do. Merely pointing out a few similarities means very little, and proves even less. Where are the logically necessary connections????

And don't be swayed too much by Descartes' style of argument. Of all the great (or at least, influential) philosophers, he is undoubtedly the least competent and the most intellectually dishonest (as Hobbes realised). He begins by pretending to doubt everything (which, of course, he doesn't mean to do for a moment); even so, he quickly digs himself into a logical hole from which he can only escape by saying, oh well, after all, God exists, so everything must be really all right, anyway...

Descartes had a first-class intellect, but, as a good Catholic, he knew in advance what conclusions he had to prove, and he shaped his arguments accordingly. This is politely known as 'special pleading'.

I prefer to think of it as philosophical hypocrisy in the first degree.
0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 May, 2011 02:14 pm
@kennethamy,
Kennethamy asks: "If reality is but a dream, then what is a dream?
A reality: a real dream.
0 Replies
 
north
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 May, 2011 10:19 pm
@chopkins,
chopkins wrote:

For the past week and a half or so my philosophy professor has been talking to us about Descartes. Along with talking to us, we have been reading and listening to online material. The one argument that Descartes put forth that has had me thinking though is the fact that reality could, in fact, be a dream. I have been trying to imagine a place where that dream would start as of late and I think I have come up with a decent beginning.

When you are born, you don't remember it, your parents do, but you don't. You have pictures to remind you of what you were like as an infant, but cognitively, there is nothing that you remember for at least 2 or 3 years after your birth. So, if we were to look back at all of our memories and try to pick out the very first one that we can recall, a very difficult task in and of itself, I am sure that the memory would be of something that happened to us with others around, but we would have a feeling of being dropped right into the center of a "dream," so to speak, like the thing that is happening in our memory is so far removed from us it happened to a different person.

Isn't this similar to the experience you have when you dream? You are just dropped into the center of said dream, and don't know when or where it began. If it is a dream, then yes, it is exactly the same. But then you run into the issue of your mother actually giving birth to you. So maybe I am trying to think of this too literally.


Descartes wasn't sophisticated enough to understand , the without

he didn't understand that the without ( Universe ) was far more complex than any dream

it is the Universe which supplies the dream not the other way around
0 Replies
 
G H
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 May, 2011 11:43 pm
@chopkins,
Quote:
Isn't this similar to the experience you have when you dream? You are just dropped into the center of said dream, and don't know when or where it began. If it is a dream, then yes, it is exactly the same.

The memories of your avatar in the dream are constantly edited anyway, so that the inconsistencies of the dream don't seem as blatant then as they do after you awake from it. If you were driving to work one moment and suddenly found yourself at an evening sport event the next, any astonishment would eventually be remedied by a memory revision: "Oh, I've actually been at this stadium for the last hour."
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

 
  1. Forums
  2. » Descartes and our perceived reality...
Copyright © 2020 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.03 seconds on 09/24/2020 at 09:42:45