dream vs. reality

dream vs. reality


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Posted Feb 5, 2008 - 12:23 AM:
Subject: dream vs. reality
How do we distinguish between what is "reality" and what is "dream state of mind". What I mean is, if I'm sleeping, and having what I think is a dream, how do I know if it is really a dream, and not reality? And if I'm living in what I think is reality, how do I know it's not a dream? With that, could it be posible that we have alternating realities?

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Posted Feb 5, 2008 - 1:11 AM:

I think reality can be determined by a preponderance of sense cues from our environment. When I am dreaming, I experience severe lapses in my senses. My surroundings don't tend to have a smell, and I rarely taste things. My vision is blurrier, and if I were to close my eyes, the environment is liable to change or cease to exist at all. Sometimes, the images are mismatched with their real world concepts (maybe I see my best friend, but he is represented by a fish). Also, some dreams are lucid, allowing me some unprecedented control over my world. I can look at all of the above phenomena and analyze it relative to my alternative state of being awake. During this time, my senses are RELATIVELY crystal. My world is constant. When I block out one of my senses, the other four all relay the same information about my surroundings, leading me to believe the world is fixed and "real".

I suppose that one wouldn't know for sure what is a dream unless and until they could describe at least to different experiences in sense. During the clearer state of sense, one is able to recognize that they were indeed in an altered state at one time. Also, I think we get confirmation about reality from other human beings. Our friends, family, and neighbors can corroborate our experiences of the world.

Edited by inspectrum on Feb 5, 2008 - 1:17 AM

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Posted Feb 5, 2008 - 2:30 AM:

I think this is one of the great questions nobody really has the answer to. We could all be brains in a tank really, living in something not to dissimiliar from "the matrix," no matter how far fetched it might sound. What makes me feel better though is that people generally determine their realities for themselves anyway, so the point may just be mute. In your life you will meet a zillion people, and they will all have very different lives, attitudes, perspectives, and dreams-- different realities if you will. Over time your perspectives change too, so maybe it's safe to say we do have alternating realities, even with dreamful sleep out of the picture. I still like to think we all experience one core reality, but no one can deny that our dreams have a great impact on what we know as reality, and vice versa. I think this makes them as real as anything else, and while I can't tell you how to distinguish between them, I can tell you it's all beautiful nonetheless.

Make no mistake though, your senses can be fooled. I guess I'm with Descartes on this one though, the important thing is that you are and no amount of dreams or matrixes or brains-in-a-tank can take that away from you smiling face

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Posted Feb 6, 2008 - 9:37 PM:

Senses can be fooled and to base a decision stating that using them we can link the real world with the one you wake up to compared to the one we dream up is inconclusive.

I personally can not see there being two alternating realities. However it is through the studying and reviewing of our dreams, such as just jotting down what we remember in the morning, expands what subconsciously goes on in our mind ex. lucid dreams. Expanding and making our "alternate live", dreams, more detailed/elaborate. Going as far as basically of creating another reality that you live subconsciously. I myself has, after just studying my dreams over a month, been consistently been living a imaginative and what seems to be a very real world involving friends and people with very unique personalities.

Through deep and involved(lucid) dreaming we create what is our "alternate reality" providing us a place to continuously interact with an environment and learn whether it was imagined or not. The key is to actively expand your knowledge of all the five senses allowing you to recreate them more vividly by yourself. ie: actively pursue increasing your imagination.
Simple Occam

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Posted Feb 7, 2008 - 12:11 PM:

I had a dream last night (I think) that I woke up and logged onto Philosophy Forums and entered into a discussion about how we can distinguish dreams from reality. Welcome to my dream, all of you. I wonder what replies I will dream up next....
How many cows? 0, 1, 2?

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Posted Feb 7, 2008 - 3:06 PM:

Hi Simple Occam, sorry to spoil your dream. The question kind of assumes that there is a difference, and I think what it is is that dreams are only in your head, rather like philosophy. When you are telling the difference, the question is , who are you telling? If you are telling yourself, then it is in your head and therefore a dream; If you are telling someone else then it is real. Sadly, some people are so disintegrated they cannot tell where they end and the other begins, and they lose touch with reality for real. Philosophically it's an amusing imponderable, but psychologically it's a life or death question, and it cannot be answered alone. Hurrah for philosophy forums, you're never alone with your ideas!

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Avatar Jehu
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Posted Feb 7, 2008 - 9:50 PM:

foolosopher wrote:
How do we distinguish between what is "reality" and what is "dream state of mind". What I mean is, if I'm sleeping, and having what I think is a dream, how do I know if it is really a dream, and not reality? And if I'm living in what I think is reality, how do I know it's not a dream? With that, could it be possible that we have alternating realities?

Surprisingly, there is an rational solution to your question, but it requires that we ask how it is that we distinguish between what is real and what is not real; philosophically speaking that is. Then, once we have determined the defining characteristics of each, we can then decide whether it is waking or dreaming, that is real - or perhaps it is neither.

There are two ways in which an entity (as apposed to a quality or relation) may be constituted: either it must be possessed of its own intrinsic causes, or it must be dependent upon extrinsic causes for its existence. That which is possessed of its own intrinsic causes is said to partake of an ‘absolute’ existence, while that which is dependent upon extrinsic causes has only a ‘relative’ existence.

An absolute entity exists ‘necessarily’, for given that its causes (that which is sufficient and necessary to its existence) are contained within the entity itself, it follows that if its causes exist, then too must the absolute entity exist; and if its causes do not exist, neither can the entity exist. Consequently, an absolute entity, if it exists, must have always existed, and must continue to exist always; and if it does not exist, then it can never have existed, nor can it come to exist in the future.

Conversely, the existence of a relative entity, being dependent upon extrinsic causes, is ‘contingent’ upon the coming together of those causes, and I so it follows that the causes of the relative entity must exist independent of an antecedent to the entity itself.

Now, as to which of the two entities is real, I think that it is clear that the absolute entity is superior to the relative entity in that it is not dependent upon anything else for its existence, whereas, the relative entity requires that something else exist antecedent to it. Thus it follows that there is either an absolute entity that is the ultimate cause of the relative entity, or that it cause lies in an infinite regression of relative entities – which is logically absurd.

So there you have it, now you need only see if it is waking or dreaming that conforms to the characteristics above, and you shall have your answer.

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Posted Feb 9, 2008 - 11:02 AM:

Dreams, a creation, as this term is loosely applied, starts in the mind; such like an idea. both cna be realized, visualized, conceived, and yes, created. Even the blind wil agree, all sensory perception is not what it seems to be. Perhaps a better answer to this question is that of preference. SO I ask, which do you prefer. There are those who dare to dream and yet others who make thier dreams a reality. The best question is what makes the two differ between people? Perhaps yes, this does beg the question, in and of itself but as it may be this is, most respectfully my opinion. For the more relative of ideology, I yield to Jehu and unenlightened, as it were.

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Posted Feb 12, 2008 - 6:14 AM:
Subject: Subjective
Perception Determines Reality Personally (Eye of the Beholder). Majority Decides Reality Factually (General Consensus). By not knowing everything and knowing everything about nothing...dreams are a reality (state of mind), and dreams can be realized (ambition). reality is limited to our ability to understand reality. what is real and yet undiscovered. what is a dream not yet realized. Your reality is whatever you want it to be, personally. Your real reality is whatever your neighbors decide it is.
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Posted Feb 13, 2008 - 8:31 PM:

this has been a recent thought of mine too, I've come to see dreams and reality as the mind's interpretation of what it is experiencing, I found Noddack's post interesting to read to think of being able to train our minds so that we can better interact with our dreams, this may give us access to our minds unlike we are in waking reality.

The story 'Zhuangzi dreamed he was a butterfly' is suitably apt for this discussion http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dream_argument
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