Opposing The Notions Of Dreams Philosophy

Essay add: 11-08-2017, 19:30   /   Views: 21

I oppose the idea of Descartes that deals with the notion of dream and the idea that senses deceive us, taken from the First Meditation:

Descartes formulated the methodic doubt because he argued that there are certain things that he had believed but it turned out to be erroneous and doubtful. Moreover, this method was also rooted from the principle that the senses are deceiving him, and in turn, he should not depend on it anymore with regards in arriving at certainty: "I have found that they deceive me, and it is unwise to trust completely those who have deceived us even once" [] .

However, I should argue that the knowledge or our conception of ideas can be generated in two kinds, basing from Locke-those belonging to sensation and those belonging to reflection. Sensation is our perception of external things; "convey into our mind several distinct perceptions of things, according to those various way wherein those object do affect them" [] In this sense, when we acquire the ideas of heat, cold, darkness and light, we acquire these sensible qualities into our mind. Reflection, on the other hand is the operation within the mind when it deals with the sensible qualities of the external things, "the mind takes of its own operations, and the manner of them, by reason whereof there come to be ideas of these operations in the understanding" [] In this sense, reflection is how the mind operates, how it reflects with regards to the set of ideas that can be acquired through sensation.

Moreover, as one examines the distinction between the sensation and reflection, it is evident that should one feel that he is deceived by his senses, it is not really the senses that are deceiving him, but the way he reflected on them. Our senses merely respond to the environment; the eyes see what it can see within its scope, the ears can hear within its range and so on. The sensation is objective; it has no formal judgement about the external things, but only it does respond on how the environment or a certain thing affects. However, reflection deals with the synthesis of the mind, as to how it was able to perceive and how the mind perceives a thing to be. There lies an idea that in reflection, the mind is the one operating; and doubting a particular instance can be attributed to the reflection; for the sensation is merely projecting the view of the environment as it appears to us. It responds to the stimulus of the environment whereas in reflection, that is, a certain operation of the mind, deals with how the mind perceive those things that the senses see, feel, hear, touch and smell. In this case, if Descartes argued that the senses deceive us, I believe that deceit was not a result of the interaction of the senses to the environment for they respond only to what the environment presents to it but rather it is the way the human mind operates-reflection; that can be subject into doubt. Descartes cannot take the senses into account of the ones producing deception, but it is how one carefully observes, evaluates and synthesizes the objects around and its manifestations.

This notion that I am presenting speculates that the notion of Descartes regarding the senses, the distrust to them and the deceit that they are capable of producing should be understood in a way that senses reciprocate to what the universe presents to them; it cannot be assumed that it produces deceit all the time because senses do not deceive. If errors are committed, it must be with the reflection that one has cogitated on. Moreover, the senses cannot be solely put on the subject of doubt; for what we perceives through the senses are objective whereas in the reflection, or how our mind operates, produces the kind of understanding on the object that our senses perceive.

Descartes argued that when one is asleep, the dreams seem to be real, "there is never any reliable way of distinguishing being awake from being asleep" [] . He claimed that when one is dreaming, the person almost believes that the dream is indeed true. "Often in my dreams I am convinced of just familiar events-in my dreams I am convinced of just familiar events-that I am sitting by the fire in my dressing gown-when in fact I am lying undressed in my bed!" [] In this sense, he believed that the deception made by the senses is caused as well by the state of dreaming. He argued that as one is not sure whether he is deceived or not when awake, the same thing goes when a person is sleeping. When a person is sleeping, it is not true that he does not have any clarity in his mind; for Descartes maintained that dreams are copies of the real world, and it cannot be derived from anything else [] .

I argue that Descartes had failed to examine thoroughly the notions between dreaming and sleeping. If then he argued that we cannot know whether we are in the dreaming or in the waking state, then we can actually say that there is a possibility, without distinguishing, that we may be dreaming all the time. And with this, we cannot absolutely have clear and distinct ideas for all we know, we are dreaming; we cannot trust anything anymore, and the judgements we make can never be right. On the other hand, if we cannot distinguish a dream and a reality, how are we able to know that we have been through a dream, after waking up? Dreams and reality may be asserted to be synonymous if the point of discussion lie mainly on the fact that, one, things that happen in reality may also appear in the dream and second, we cannot distinguish the two, having the almost exact principles underlying behind.

Locke made a distinction regarding the difference between two states so as not to be confused with each other; that the principles to be associated with one cannot be associated with another. On this note, Locke separated the two kinds of experiences, namely, dreaming and sleeping. The confusion of Descartes philosophy lies in the fact that he did not make any partition as to the two states; and the result could be misidentifying one with the other.

As the two states are different from each other, Locke made clear the differentiation between them. Locke holds that whatever it is in a dream that "man" experiences, and on such occasion, he finds the dreams to be comparable to reality, it is not the "man" that experiences it, but his soul [] : "the soul can, whilst the body is sleeping, having its thinking, enjoyments, and concerns, its pleasures or pain, apart which that man is not conscious of nor partakes in" [] In this sense, it is clear that Locke made a clarification of man in a dreaming state and a man in a waking state; where the former deals with the soul alone while the latter deals with the body and the soul.

To add further, Locke claimed that in a dreaming state, the soul may be able to think, however, the memory is not really capable of keeping those things that the soul encounters during his sleep.

In this regard, we made a distinction between a man in a sleeping state, where the soul thinks but has not capability to direct its thoughts. It is thinking in a way that the soul can produce the dream, that is almost as true as reality. However, the soul cannot actually think like the man in a waking state thinks. Moreover, the relation of the body and the soul separates for a while when one is asleep; the body is never conscious of anything while the soul is operating.

Basing the two states from Locke, I have then laid out the distinction between the waking state and the sleeping state. In this case, there is a way of distinguishing the two states that man experience; by making a separation between the two, that they cannot be put into the same principle together since they belong to different realms. I believe more on the claim of Locke because by distinguishing the two, there will rise no confusion between what is in reality and what is just a dream. The man in a dreaming state does not know where the dream will lead him, he has no direct control over it and thus, it should be differentiated from a man, who is awake and has the direct control over the things around him. The intellect that is required in both instances fall on different view.

Furthermore, regarding the claim of Descartes regarding the idea that it seems to be that what happens in the dreams is a copy of the reality, which makes it hard to identify whether it is a reality or a dream. In this sense, I may argue that the case is such since in reality, both the body and the soul work together in dealing with the environments and the objects around it. It is true then that in dreams are copies of the real world for in a dreaming state, the same soul works; but only the body departs-unconscious. However, one must be aware that dreams should never be regarded to be within the same sphere as that of reality.

If Descartes believes that dreams can be similar to the reality, then on such note, we may say that the uncertainty may contain different aspects; that I may consider my state now, typing and formulating my ideas to be a dream. But obviously, it is not. The identification of a dream to reality is significant in the sense that observing those principles will lead us to the consideration that dreams and reality are in different spheres. Arguing from Locke, there is a distinction between the two of them; such as man in a dreaming state and a man in a waking state is two different person-the former is concerned with the operations of the soul while the other with that of the body and the soul.


Kolak, Daniel & Thomson, Garrett (2006). The Longman Standard History of Philosophy. Pearson Education, Inc.: USA

Martin, Clancy & Solomon, Robert (2005). Since Socrates: A Concise Sourcebook of Classic Readings. Thomson Wadsworth: Canada

Stokes, Philip (2007). Philosophy: The Great Thinkers. Arcturus Publishing Limited: England

Williams, Bernard (2005). Descartes: The Project of Pure Inquiry. Routledge: London

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