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 follow through with his goals in order to ensure success in uncovering everlasting knowledge. He says that he will carefully analyze skepticism and try very hard to find an answer, but if he cannot, then he will not dwell on it. Descartes is not worried about proving every belief to be false or even proving them to be true. If he is unable to collect enough information to prove something to be false or true; if he can reasonably doubt it, than he will be indifferent to the answer. This is called the method of doubt- not being able to know something for certain. Also, Descartes will not trust any unreliable source when trying to find the answers to his questions. After doing all of this, he will analyze his left over skeptical hypotheses and work with what knowledge he has gained. In Meditation one, Descartes explains his five skeptical hypotheses. His first skepticism is that maybe the information that he gains through his senses are unreliable; his senses could possibly be fooling him. The second skeptical hypothesis that he reaches is that maybe he is a crazy person. The dream argument surfaces in the third hypothesis where he questions the possibility of him dreaming, while, all along, believing he is in reality. In...