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Descartes' Dream Argument Essay

Descartes' Dream Argument

Question everything. Descartes would like his audience to do exactly this when beginning his Meditations on First Philosophy. Urging the reader to do this, Descartes introduces an argument in "Meditation One: Concerning Those Things That Can Be Called into Doubt" regarding dreams vs. reality. Descartes argument concerning dreams in "Meditation One" seems to be correct. In this paper, I will first explain why Descartes presents the dream argument and the reasoning for placing it at the beginning of his Meditations, next I will explain the dream argument itself, and lastly, I will illustrate why Descartes' argument is true.

A question Descartes is determined to answer in his Meditations on First Philosophy is how one can know which beliefs he or she may hold are actually true. In an attempt to begin to answer this inquiry, Descartes ventures to get rid of all of his beliefs and start over with only certain beliefs. To do this, Descartes will perform what he calls "methodical doubt" which is an organized and planned way of finding reasons to question one's beliefs. Descartes does this by attempting to attack the foundational beliefs that all of his beliefs rely on: his senses.

Descartes calls sensory perceptions into question so that his audience will be free from sensory influence. Once his audience is in the right mind-state, Descartes believes they will be able to understand what he has to say more easily. In an effort to make his reader question his or her senses, Descartes brings up dreams. He reflects upon dreams because of this: it is possible for one to figure out that he or she is dreaming, but some dreams are so realistic that the dreamer actually believes it is reality. So, if these "overly realistic dreams" exist and one can truly believe that he or she is feeling, tasting, smelling, seeing, or hearing something when they are actually at rest and sleeping, how can one ever really know if they are awake? How can one know the difference between reality and a dream? Descartes argues that one can not know this difference.

In "Meditation One", Descartes presents his infamous dream argument. Descartes begins his argument by stating that dreams are often mistaken as an actual experience of sensory perception (M1-19). The subsequent conclusion Descartes draws from this is that there are no clear...

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Critique of Descartes' Dream Argument Essay examples

1527 WordsApr 26th, 20117 Pages

Sara Logan
McKitrick
Philosophy 101
14 November 2008
Critique of Descartes’ Dream Argument Descartes has written a set of six meditations on the first philosophy. In these meditations he analyzes his beliefs and questions where those beliefs were derived from. The first mediation of Descartes discusses his skeptical hypotheses; questioning the validity of the influences of his knowledge. He has a few main goals that are expressed through the first meditation. First off, Descartes wants to build a firm foundation of knowledge that is also concrete. Through probing his mind for answers to all of his skeptical thoughts, he hopes to eliminate the skepticism and find true, unquestionable knowledge. Descartes has mapped out ways to…show more content…

In the fifth and last skeptical hypothesis, Descartes raises the possibility of there being an evil demon that deceives him into believing falsehoods. Descartes has established arguments that either support or demolish the thoughts for all of these skeptical hypotheses. As stated previously, the dream argument points out that people may actually be dreaming when they think they are living in reality. Descartes used his methods of detecting falsities to evaluate this argument. Descartes’ initial dream argument is weak and proves to not hold up against his other skeptical hypotheses. Many different interpretations of Descartes’ dream argument could derive from his theory. In lecture we interpreted Descartes’ Dream Argument as follows: 1. If I am dreaming, most of my beliefs about the things around me are false. 2. Therefore, if I’m dreaming, I lack knowledge of my surroundings 3. There are never any reliable signs to distinguish dreaming from being awake. 4. Therefore, I don’t know that I’m not dreaming right now. 5. Therefore, I lack knowledge of my surroundings.
I believe that this is a clear and distinct interpretation of his dream argument. It breaks down Descartes’ dream argument and points out the premises that lead to his conclusions. Every valid argument must have a conclusion that is directly derived from its’ premises. In order for an argument to be sound, the premises and conclusion must make logical

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