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Descartes's First Meditation

 
 
Brianj1
 
Reply Fri 19 Nov, 2010 01:39 am
After reading the First Meditation I was intrigued to know if anyone agreed with Descartes's claim about dreams and reality. He proposes a valid argument that while in a dream a person cannot tell the difference between the dream and reality. As, from personal experience, I know this to be true, I do not see any fault with his claim. I just wanted to hear other people's opinion on this topic.
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fresco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Nov, 2010 01:45 am
@Brianj1,
Read Gurdjieff...according to him, what we call "being awake" is also a dream !
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Nov, 2010 09:22 am
@Brianj1,
Brianj1 wrote:

After reading the First Meditation I was intrigued to know if anyone agreed with Descartes's claim about dreams and reality. He proposes a valid argument that while in a dream a person cannot tell the difference between the dream and reality. As, from personal experience, I know this to be true, I do not see any fault with his claim. I just wanted to hear other people's opinion on this topic.


Descartes argues that when we are dreaming we cannot know we are dreaming, and that therefore, we cannot tell whether we are dreaming or are awake. And that seems right. But Descartes also seems to be arguing something else: that when we are awake, we cannot tell whether we are dreaming or awake. And that seems to be different. There are, it seems to me good ways to tell when we are awake that we are awake. The old way, pinching yourself, seems to be one.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Nov, 2010 09:26 am
@fresco,
fresco wrote:

Read Gurdjieff...according to him, what we call "being awake" is also a dream !


And what would be what G. call dreaming? Also a dream, no doubt. So dreaming dreaming is dreaming, and so is awake dreaming, dreaming. Right. Very well, let's just call dreaming dreaming simply "dreaming" and awake dreaming, "awake", and we'll be back to where we should be before G. confused the issue. Just a change of notation.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Nov, 2010 09:51 am
@kennethamy,
Try reading it !
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Nov, 2010 10:34 am
@fresco,
fresco wrote:

Try reading it !


Is your report of what he says wrong? It is to that report I am replying. I really don't care what G. says. Is that what you say? (But it would not surprise me if that is something that G. said. It sound like the sort of thing he would say. Because it is so profoundly silly).
wayne
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Nov, 2010 10:47 am
I have awakened from a dream to realise I had dreamed, I have not yet awakened from what we call awake to realise it was a dream. So, yes, if awake is a dream, I do not know it.
Yesterday was but a dream and tomorrow never comes.
However, I bear the scars of yesterday indicating some continuity to the present dream.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Nov, 2010 11:03 am
@wayne,
wayne wrote:

I have awakened from a dream to realise I had dreamed, I have not yet awakened from what we call awake to realise it was a dream. So, yes, if awake is a dream, I do not know it.
Yesterday was but a dream and tomorrow never comes.
However, I bear the scars of yesterday indicating some continuity to the present dream.


Does that mean that now, when you are (presumably) awake, you do not know you are awake? Why not? What is going on that raises any doubt in you? Have you (for instance) just seen President Obama walk into your room and ask you what to do about N. Korea?
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Nov, 2010 11:20 am
@kennethamy,
The claim by esotericists is that there are "levels of consciousness" such that what we call "being awake" is equivalent to "sleep walking". In such a state there is no permanent "self".

Now insofar as a "wakefulness" state seems to qualitatively different to a"dreaming" state, the Descartes observation may be valid. But insofar that we might associate the word "self" as "the experiencer" of such states, this is more problematic and raises issues of "selfhood" which even mainstream disciplines such as psychology,linguistics and sociology have failed to resolve, thereby leaving the question fertile for esotericists.
0 Replies
 
wayne
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Nov, 2010 11:21 am
@kennethamy,
As long as I have not awakened from being awake, I see no reason to think that awake is a dream. Even the past, which may seem a dream, leaves the scars to indicate a connection to the present state of awake.
I know I am awake, as well as anything can be known, however, in dreams I sometimes believe I am awake.
If Obama shows up, I might question the continuity of the occurence at first, but over time I would come to accept that as normal.
kennethamy
 
  2  
Reply Sat 20 Nov, 2010 12:14 pm
@wayne,
wayne wrote:

As long as I have not awakened from being awake, I see no reason to think that awake is a dream. Even the past, which may seem a dream, leaves the scars to indicate a connection to the present state of awake.
I know I am awake, as well as anything can be known, however, in dreams I sometimes believe I am awake.
If Obama shows up, I might question the continuity of the occurence at first, but over time I would come to accept that as normal.


What might happen over time is not what I was talking about. The point is that unless you have some actual reason to question whether you are awake, the point is moot. I don't know whether when you are dreaming that you are dreaming you are awake. At best, you may be dreaming that you are awake. But we need not settle that to settle whether when we are awake we have any good reason to think we are not (short of Obama entering the room). The answer is that we do not. So skepticism about whether we are awake when we are awake is unjustified.
wayne
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Nov, 2010 01:17 pm
@kennethamy,
Yes, I agree that from the immediate perspective we have no good reason to question being awake when we are awake.
Can we not say the same of the dream though?
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Nov, 2010 01:43 pm
@wayne,
Quote:
As long as I have not awakened from being awake, I see no reason to think that awake is a dream.

Next time you find yourself upstairs, or in a room having forgotten why you made the trip, you might like reconsider the "wakefulness of self."
wayne
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Nov, 2010 01:50 pm
@fresco,
fresco wrote:

Quote:
As long as I have not awakened from being awake, I see no reason to think that awake is a dream.

Next time you find yourself upstairs, or in a room having forgotten why you made the trip, you might like reconsider the "wakefulness of self."


That's a matter of preoccupation, I haven't left my body or anything when that happens.
0 Replies
 
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Nov, 2010 01:52 pm
@wayne,
wayne wrote:

Yes, I agree that from the immediate perspective we have no good reason to question being awake when we are awake.
Can we not say the same of the dream though?


No, because when dreaming we cannot have reasons or ask questions. At best, we can only dream we so so.
0 Replies
 
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Nov, 2010 01:53 pm
@fresco,
fresco wrote:

Quote:
As long as I have not awakened from being awake, I see no reason to think that awake is a dream.

Next time you find yourself upstairs, or in a room having forgotten why you made the trip, you might like reconsider the "wakefulness of self."


Why? What has that to do with whether we are awake? To be awake does not imply that we cannot lose track, or forget things. Why would you think so?
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Nov, 2010 02:32 pm
@kennethamy,
Quote:
I haven't left my body or anything when that happens.


On the contrary....that "I" might have been absent!

I have already agreed with the qualitative distinction of states of consciousness. I am merely pointing out that such discrimination of states need not presuppose the concept of "self" as the discriminator. On the contrary, following Heidegger it may be that "self" is evoked by interruptions to an inter-relational flow, rather than "being present" for the majority of "waking moments".
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Nov, 2010 02:52 pm
@fresco,
fresco wrote:

Quote:
I haven't left my body or anything when that happens.


On the contrary....that "I" might have been absent!

I have already agreed with the qualitative distinction of states of consciousness. I am merely pointing out that such discrimination of states need not presuppose the concept of "self" as the discriminator. On the contrary, following Heidegger it may be that "self" is evoked by interruptions to an inter-relational flow, rather than "being present" for the majority of "waking moments".


You mean "it might be" not,"it may be". Has any evidence been given for this, and if it is true, then what. Does that mean that there is no difference between waking and sleeping, or that we cannot tell when we are awake? Not that I can tell. That we lose track on occasion, or that we forget things is one thing: but that such occurrences are tantamount to dreaming is preposterous.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Nov, 2010 03:19 pm
@kennethamy,
I shall say it once more since you don't seem to get it. Descartes' "I" has debatable ontological status. The qualitative difference between "dreaming" and "wakefulness" may evoke a particular aspect of "self" rather than be "experienced" by a consistent entity called "self". Those instances during "the day" when any aspect of self is absent is little different from dreaming...hence the term "day-dreaming".
wayne
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Nov, 2010 03:35 pm
@fresco,
fresco wrote:

I shall say it once more since you don't seem to get it. Descartes' "I" has debatable ontological status. The qualitative difference between "dreaming" and "wakefulness" may evoke a particular aspect of "self" rather than be "experienced" by a consistent entity called "self". Those instances during "the day" when any aspect of self is absent is little different from dreaming...hence the term "day-dreaming".


Just because I'm thinking about my grocery list and forget what I went upstairs for doesn't equate to the absense of self. You've taken the term daydreaming and then tried to make the event into something it's not. The aspect of self is merely preoccupied with thinking of something else.
Day-dreaming is not dreaming at all, it is simply being lost in thought.
 

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