Thursday, November 24, 2011

Inception and Philosophy: Life Is But a Dream

If you've seen the movie Inception, you may have wondered whether the character Cobb is dreaming throughout the film. Can Cobb know whether he is dreaming? How do you know whether you are dreaming now? This is the famous question Descartes asks, suggesting we can never, at any given moment, be sure we are not dreaming.
You may feel certain that you are not dreaming right now, but you have been just as certain that you are not dreaming while you have been dreaming! (We've all had that dream that we were so certain was real.) Thus we can't use our own subjective feeling that we are not dreaming as evidence that we are not-but what else could settle it? Although many philosophers have tried to solve this problem, all have failed. One cannot be certain that one is not dreaming; in fact, it seems that one cannot even know.

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