(2) The best-known presentation of the dream hypothesis is undoubtedly that of Descartes, . See my earlier analysis of this topic, "Plato's Dream Hypothesis: A Metacommunicative Statement," , Vol. 8 #2, May, 1975
How is The Dream Argument located textually? How is it located intellectually? What does Descartes think that dreams are like for the purposes of his argument? Are your/our dreams actually like that? Does it matter whether they are or not? Why does Descartes thus cavalierly dismiss the possibility that he might be mad? What is the difference between the dream hypothesis and the demon hypothesis? What does the Dream Argument show, if anything? What criterion does Descartes (later) offer as a way of distinguishing waking from dreaming experiences? Does it work?
A first reason is that Descartes’ version of the problem setsthe dream argument apart from other related skeptical arguments:unlike standard cases of sensory misperception, dreaming raisesgenuine doubts about the veracity of even best-case scenarios ofsensory perception, and unlike the evil genius hypothesis (see nextsection), dreaming is cast as a real-world (and not a merelyhypothetical) example of sensory deception. By contrast, many whodiscussed the dream example before him did not take theepistemological threat posed by dreaming to be unique. Inthe Theaetetus (157e), Plato has Socrates discuss a defect inperception that is common to
The inherent appeal to empirical plausibility is also what setsCartesian dream skepticism apart from alternative versions ofexternal-world skepticism such as the evil genius hypothesis,the brain-in-a-vat thought experimentand Matrix-style scenarios of deception. The first of theseis introduced by Descartes in the First Meditation. Afterdiscussing the dream argument, Descartes introduces the possibility ofan omnipotent but evil genius determined to deceive us even in ourmost basic beliefs. While he presents the scenario of dream deceptionas something that has often actually happened to him, he emphasizesthat the evil genius hypothesis is a mere fiction intended toaid him in his systematic doubt (Meditations,I.15–16). Still, the evil genius hypothesis radicalizes thedream argument in two respects. One, it is intended to undermine notonly Descartes’ sensory-based beliefs, but also those types ofbeliefs he thought were protected from the dream argument. Two, unlikethe weaker reading of the dream argument introduced above, it involvesa continuing rather than a temporary form of deception.
ABSTRACT: Why should we believe in such a thing as humanity? Should we accept appearances or take authority as our guide? Should we point to some pragmatic advantage to be gained by believing it, or is there proof? Philosophy offers such proof, contained in the dream hypothesis of the Buddha and Plato (and, more famously, Descartes). The dream hypothesis reveals our common ground. It refers to a familiar experience in terms of which young people of every time and place can understand why routine, authority, definition and first principle, category, criterion, perception and paradigm might fail. But the dream hypothesis is about the transition from sleeping to waking. As familiar, this transition is an excellent device for teaching that similar transitions can happen to one who is already awake. The dream hypothesis is about the soul, and the capacity to choose not only one's actions but also one's contexts. On the eve of the new millennium, we face responsibility for the results of our routines. The dream hypothesis promises to awaken a taste for foresight and negotiation. When we all understand the dream hypothesis, we will no longer worship our routines, but will be better judges of their utility. We will stand together when we transcend our cultures and recognize the capacity of all citizens of every nation, tribe, and culture to grow, that is, when we awaken to the possibility of waking up.