David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
By what empirical means can a person determine whether he or she is presently awake or dreaming? Any conceivable test addressing this question, which is a special case of the classical metaphysical doubting of reality, must be statistical (for the same reason that empirical science is, as noted by Hume). Subjecting the experienced reality to any kind of statistical test (for instance, a test for bizarreness) requires, however, that a set of baseline measurements be available. In a dream, or in a simulation, any such baseline data would be vulnerable to tampering by the same processes that give rise to the experienced reality, making the outcome of a reality test impossible to trust. Moreover, standard cryptographic defenses against such tampering cannot be relied upon, because of the potentially unlimited reach of reality modiﬁcation within a dream, which may range from the integrity of the veriﬁcation keys to the declared outcome of the entire process. In the face of this double predicament, the rational course of action is to take reality at face value. The predicament also has some intriguing corollaries. In particular, even the most revealing insight that a person may gain into the ultimate nature of reality (for instance, by attaining enlightenment in the Buddhist sense) is ultimately unreliable, for the reasons just mentioned. At the same time, to adhere to this principle, one has to be aware of it, which may not be possible in various states of reduced or altered cognitive function such as dreaming or religious experience. Thus, a subjectively enlightened person may still lack the one truly important piece of the puzzle concerning his or her existence.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library||
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Shimon Edelman (2011). Regarding Reality: Some Consequences of Two Incapacities. Frontiers in Psychology 2.
Jack Martin & Jeff Sugarman (1999). Psychology's Reality Debate: A "Levels of Reality" Approach. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology 19 (2):177-194.
Leonard Lawlor (2011). Reality and Philosophy: Reflections on Cora Diamond's Work. Philosophical Investigations 34 (4):353-366.
Michael V. Antony (forthcoming). Can We Acquire Knowledge of Ultimate Reality? In Jeanine Diller & Asa Kasher (eds.), Models of God and Other Ultimate Realities. Springer.
Sarah E. Glenn (2003). William James's Conception of Reality. International Philosophical Quarterly 43 (2):207-218.
Thomas L. Gwozdz (2010). Metaphysics and Ethics. International Philosophical Quarterly 50 (4):489-500.
Imants Baruss (2003). Dreams. In , Alterations of Consciousness: An Empirical Analysis for Social Scientists. American Psychological Association. 79-106.
Gregory Rocca (1986). The Existence of God in Hans Küng's Does God Exist. Faith and Philosophy 3 (2):177-191.
Natalia Martishina (2008). Metaphisics as a Study of True Reality. Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 15:141-147.
Elizabeth M. Kraus (1998). The Metaphysics of Experience: A Companion to Whitehead's Process and Reality. Fordham University Press.
Katalin Farkas (2014). A Sense of Reality. In Fiona MacPherson & Dimitris Platchias (eds.), Hallucinations. MIT Press. 399-417.
Added to index2010-12-22
Total downloads3 ( #313,706 of 1,140,265 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #142,694 of 1,140,265 )
How can I increase my downloads?