One big philosophical question is to know whether we know anything or not. Knowing in a sense is quite different from its everyday use. As a matter of fact everyone claims to know various things all the time, but the conditions that are required to say that we know in everyday life are quite different from the ones that are required to say that we really know something in the epistemological way. Epistemology does provide us with different theories to know the truth (coherence, correspondence theory, foundationalism etc.). In this essay, I will use two (related methods) to see whether or not one can know he is not dreaming. The dream-argument comes from Descartes' meditations. For him, there is no sensible difference (in the way that we cannot feel it) between the awake stage and the asleep one. In this essay, I will however not keep this assumption, for I do not agree with it and I still feel it is worth it to see whether we can say that we know that we are not asleep once we have made the basic assumption that there is a difference between the two stages.
[...] If we still do move on to the third condition however, we can say that A is not justified in not believing P. Why that? Because dreams are always a bit different to reality, they allow more things than is allowed by the physical laws, the quality of a dream does also differ from the quality of real life. Therefore A's belief in is not justified whereas A's belief in P would be justified. When looking at the fourth condition, it would also hold if P was A believes that he is dreaming. [...]
[...] If we take the first option, A will still think he is not dreaming when he is awake but that cannot be considered as knowledge anymore. Because he cannot make any distinction between the two cases, nothing that can show him when to believe P and when not. So here the third conditional, the first subjunctive one, does not hold here. If we now take the second option, he will be feeling as if he were dreaming but at the same time the fact that he will be realizing that he is feeling like if he were dreaming might let him think that he is in fact not. [...]
[...] What it is even more important is that the fourth condition holds. It holds because, by remembering how a dream like experience feels like, A can know that he is not dreaming at the moment. The person can remember his dreams, what they felt like, even though during the dream he can not know that he is not dreaming because he lacks the ability to. So here, If A was dreaming, he would not experience the quality of details, or normality that he is experiencing at the moment. [...]
[...] So when someone is awake, he does know for sure that he is not dreaming because the feelings attached to a dreaming experience are not present. So here the trick is to know the difference between the two situations. This difference renders A able to say that it is P fact that he is not dreaming”) that makes him able to believe that same P. So P really causes A to believe P. If we now change the meaning of A and namely A being “person is dreaming” and P being believes that he is dreaming” then A can never know P because the mental state induced by his sleeping state makes it unable that A's belief P is justified. [...]
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