Descartes Essay

Essay by porneggsCollege, UndergraduateA-, March 2004

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French Philosopher, Renes Descartes, is considered the father of modern philosophy and is notorious for criticizing any beliefs that are derived from sensory perception. In this essay I will attempt to disprove premise 2 of his dream argument which states that, "no beliefs based on the senses are completely certain and indubitable." I will attempt to disprove the third argument supporting this premise which states that, "there are no certain marks by which the state of waking can ever be distinguished from sleep."

There are clear and certain marks which distinguish the state of sleeping from waking. One example would be intent prior to entering either state. People generally intend to go to sleep unless they are severely ill or intoxicated and happen to lose consciousness unintentionally. This is important because it illustrates the fact that we know we are about to enter a disillusioned state, whether or not we realize this once it occurs.

It is deliberate and intentional as we are trying to enter a state of sleep. On the other hand, we are not able to make this type of decision once we have already entered a disillusioned state. Waking is an involuntary action over which we have no control. We do not plan or intend for it to occur because we are unable to make the distinction between reality and disillusionment when we are disillusioned (sleeping). Furthermore, we are unable to make any sort of conscious decision, or take any definite action toward a specified goal when we are in a disillusioned state. This is another mark that helps us distinguish between the state of sleeping from waking.

When we are asleep, events appear to happen on their own rather than by our own doing. We are unable to make a decision and take...