Dreaming, Philosophical Issues
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In Tim Bayne, Patrick Wilken & Axel Cleeremans (eds.), Oxford Companion to Consciousness. Oxford University Press (2009)
Having fascinated some of the greatest philosophers from the earliest times, dreaming figures importantly in the history of philosophy, as in Plato’s Theaetetus, Augustine’s Confessions, and, perhaps most famously, Descartes’s Mediations. By far the greatest philosophical focus on dreaming has been epistemic: Socrates suggests to Theaetetus that since he cannot tell whether he is dreaming, he cannot trust his senses to know contingent facts about the world around him. And a similar worry drives Descartes’s radical doubt in the First Meditation. We might think that dream skepticism is, among the radical Cartesian skeptical scenarios, a particularly worrying one, since dreams, unlike evil demons, are a commonplace of everyday life.
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