Thursday, October 11, 2012

the dreamer's dream

hard to conclusively rule out...

In the posts fabricating reality and on certainty I tried to argue that fundamentally we have no clue of what is really going on. That there are many cracks in the foundations on which our knowledge rests. And that reality could be radically different to what we like to imagine it is. If you think this is rather silly, if you think the world makes total sense when you wake up every day, consider the following.

In dream research, there is a phenomenon called false awakening. This means you first dream of waking up in a lucid dream before you really wake up. If you believe this is no big deal, think about the following words from Thomas Metzinger, a philosopher of the mind, who studies consciousness. He is talking from personal experience:
To wake up twice in a row is something that can shatter many of the theoretical intuitions you have about consciousness --- for instance, that the vividness, the coherence, and the crispness of a conscious experience are evidence that you are really in touch with reality.

The quote is taken from his recent book, The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self, where he incidentally goes to great lengths to assert that experiencing a self is an illusion and a construct of the mind.

This quote is reminiscent of the old story told by the Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi, called the butterfly dream.

Metzinger then goes on to provocatively ask:
So, how do you know that you actually woke up this morning? Couldn't it be that everything you have experienced was only a dream?

So, how do you know?

1 comment:

jbg said...

thx franz for pointing this out:

"Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?"

A Dream Within a Dream, Edgar Allan Poe.