Descartes Dreaming Argument Analysis

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In Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes questions the trustworthiness of his beliefs, doubting what he believes as true. He reflects on the falsehoods he believed during his lifetime and motions to remove those foundations in order to build a new foreground of knowledge. Descartes found a way to build a new foundation for necessary truths (innate ideas that cannot be false) by reconstructing the ideas he previously known. Instead of initially throwing out everything he previously knew, he attacks the foundation of specific ideas and increases the level of skepticism in his argument while doubting each maneuver he used to think is true while remaining open to certain ideals. This is known as the “Method of Doubt”, in which Descartes …show more content…
Descartes cannot recognize the difference between being asleep and awake, leading to the notion that the world around us could actually be a dream. Descartes uses the fire as an example, which “…I see light, hear noise, and feel heat. But it will be said that these phenomena are false and that I am dreaming” (Descartes 80). Descartes can feel the warmth of the fire in his dreams and in real life, making it difficult to distinguish the difference between the dreaming state and awake state. Descartes can’t trust his senses in telling him whether the fire actually exists when he’s awake. With that said, we cannot tell the difference between the dreaming state and awake state because of their similarities. Descartes mentions that there are no specific signs to determine the dreaming state from a waking state, “I have in sleep been deceived by similar illusion, and indwelling carefully on this reflection I see that there are no indications by which wakefulness may be clearly distinguished sleep” (Descartes 74). Overall, the Dream Argument says that the senses are not as reliable as we thought they were, dreams can prove them to be false, therefore, we should not build our beliefs through the …show more content…
In this example, he describes the piece of wax as its “…color, shape, and size are apparent; it is hard, cold, easily handled; and if you strike it with your knuckle, it will emit a sound” (Descartes 80). When the wax approaches the fire, the physical properties change—its shape, size, smell, and color. Even though the wax’s physical and sensible properties have changed, we still interpret the melted-altered substance as ‘wax’. The wax can change into an infinite number of shapes yet our minds tell us the altered piece of wax is similar to hard and cold piece of wax described previously. This brings us to Descartes conclusion that knowledge is innate (born with) because we are able to distinguish differences in sensible properties. Descartes argues that knowledge is innate and the senses should not be trusted. However, not all knowledge is innate, rather, some knowledge is acquired through sensory experiences. In An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Locke argues that knowledge is acquired through the senses, in which they play a vital role in associating and ascertaining certain ideas with specific

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