"…you dumbass…" … dreams within dreams … and Descartes

Had a terrible evening last night all started when I got on the wrong train at New Street and ended up in the middle of no-where. took me four hours to get home in the pouring rain. It was cold, windy and wet! I must admit I was a tad pissed off had all sorts of thoughts going through my head … stupid rain, stupid trains, stupid universe, … god must hate me well I’ll hate him back see how he likes that! blah blah blah.

Anyway as I neared my place I was actually pretty wound up and shivering, then suddenly this cat jumps out in front of me (makes me jump out of my skin!) and runs under this parked car to shelter from the rain I guess. Anyway I remember standing there momentarily looking up at the sky and laughing and saying out loud “oh well it, at least I’m not naked!” … ridiculous I know but it made me laugh, it’s a good job no-one was around I’d have sounded like a nutter!

Anyway I must have got home around 9:15, and figured I was way too tired to cook, and I was too tired to order anything in so I chucked a load of fruit, ice and milk into my really cool blender, 60 seconds later instant smoothie! Had that, thought about watching TV but decided I was too tired for that too so I trundled off to be around 9:45.

Anyway I had the strangest night. I had one of those really weird dreams where your actually having a dream within a dream within a dream. Not sure how or why that happens but its a bit bizarre. I don’t actually remember too much about the dreams, in terms of the details but its just the weird idea that I woke up from a dream to realise I was still in another dream, and then when I woke up in that dream I was still in another one! Finally when I did wake up I just lay there wondering whether I was going to wake up again … is it me or is that just freaky?

Curiously it got me thinking about something Descartes wrote in his Meditations on First Philosophy( which I still think is heavily influenced by Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, I know many who disagree with me on that but I think theres definitely strong parallels ). Descartes attempts to find a way undermine all of his own beliefs. He does this by considering whether he is mad, dreaming or being influenced by a powerful demon, the idea being that if any of these scenarios were the case then many of his beliefs would be false. Descartes writings are often fairly inaccessible probably because of the way his works have been translated .. however in modern philosophy Descartes little experiment is the basis for the brain in a vat thought experiment, which most people find far easier to relate to.


Image source:Wikipedia

The brain in the vat experiment, in simple terms, asks us to consider the questions a) how do we know that what we are experiencing is actually real. b) if what we believe is a result of what we experience, and we cant be sure if what we experience is real, then can our beliefs be true? The experiment asks us to imagine the scenario that a brain in a vat is connected to a computer that provides all the identical electrical impulses the brain normally receives. The computer would then be simulating a kind of virtual reality but the disembodied brain would never realise this. One of the better dramatisations of this relatively recently was the Matrix movie which I’g guessing most people have seen.

Anyway I think its interesting food for thought.

Oh yeah … as for the dumbass bit … well on the way to work this morning, as with most mornings, I tend to get on the same bus with one of my colleagues, Amanda. She asked me if I’d had a good evening and I told her about my 4.5 hour trip home last night to which she replied … “oh Nad … your such a dumbass” …gee thanks Mandy! I’ll remember that!