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Is there a definitive way to establish if you're dreaming or awake? Watch

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    (Original post by whythehellnot)
    Classic Descartes. Can you beyond a doubt tell if you're a awake as opposed to dreaming?

    Perhaps there is no fool proof method for this, maybe there is. Either way, what methods could be employed (regardless of if they're fool proof) to attempt to establish if we're sleeping or not?

    My friend suggested that we cannot feel pain whilst we sleep, which is where the expression "pinch me I must be dreaming" surely comes from.

    Ideas?
    I don't think the pinching pain thing is true. I have a recurring dream in which all my teeth fall out (weird I know), but I really feel them coming out and clinking round my mouth, and I can push my tongue into the 'holes' where they were and it hurts. So yeh, you can (or at least I can) feel dream pain.

    I also think that the dream is real while I'm dreaming it, even though I've dreamt it many times before. So I don't think people actually 'think' when they dream, in which case you could never tell if it's real or not because your brain just tells you that it is and that's that.
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    (Original post by JoeLatics)
    Open and try to read a book. If it has understandable text, you're awake. Otherwise you're dreaming!
    This works.

    I've thought I was awake in the past, opened up a book and the text was completelyyy indecipherable to me. :rolleyes:
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      Look at your watch, note the time and look away. Then look at it again. If there's been a big change, you're dreaming.

      (Original post by Lewis :D)
      I know this is weird but I can tell when I'm in a dream, everything is confusing and nothing is easy to do.
      Lucid dreaming is pretty common and happens to most people.
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      It's all semantics. Because people know when they are asleep/awake. So why do we know? It's about then defining dreams/defining what it means to be awake. And once you've gotten the definitions you have your solution. The problem is that it's very difficult, if not impossible, to arrive at satisfactory definitions. So it's a technically unsolvable problem on a semantic level but one which we sort of know the answer to.
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      (Original post by Lewis :D)
      I know this is weird but I can tell when I'm in a dream, everything is confusing and nothing is easy to do.
      Yes me too! For instance, when I am dreaming, I have to go through some sort of psychological battle in my mind just to say, for instance walk downstairs and get a drink. It's like I start walking towards the kitchen but it seems that I carry on walking for hours and then I don't even make it to the fridge in the end but something else comes up and the dream drifts along to something completely different. It seems like everything I want to do is virtually impossible yet it is ultimately my own mind holding me back by creating new scenarios which stop me from achieving what it is possible to achieve. I rarely know that I am actually dreaming though (although there have been a few occasions).
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      (Original post by JoeLatics)
      Open and try to read a book. If it has understandable text, you're awake. Otherwise you're dreaming!
      It's not obvious to me that this works as well as you might think. What if there was something wrong with my brain, such that I was temporarily unable to read; should I therefore conclude that I'm dreaming?

      - The book was poorly written
      - The book was in another language

      Perhaps more devastatingly, it's not entirely clear to me that it's impossible for me to be dreaming and be unable to read a book and have it mean something. The text itself could be nonsense, but that doesn't mean that I couldn't take meaning away from it (in my dream). Further, I don't think whilst I was dreaming I would be in a state to analyse the text with the intention of ascertaining whether or not I'm dreaming. This notion might not be at the forefront of my mind, this doesn't show that I couldn't analyse it because I wasn't thinking about this topic whilst I was eating my breakfast this morning either.
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      (Original post by AnarchistNutter)
      Nope. I remember reading books (or being under the illusion of reading a book) when I've been sleep . OP, are you by any chance a solipsist?
      Sure, I can get behind the idea that true knowledge of other minds is unjustified. I wouldn't go as far to say that it's clear to me that even I exist though, it's only clear to me that there seems to be thought.

      I agree with your criticism too. (Y)
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      (Original post by Bubbles0ox)
      IF you're dreaming you'll eventually wake up?
      plus my dreams are pretty stupid, they might seem 'real' at the time.
      but when i wake up i realise that i didnt just fly over london, get pregnant by my friend and live in about 3 different places in the space of an hour.
      What if whatever it is you call 'reality' right now is an infinitely more complex dream though?
      There's more to this idea than simply, the dreams we experience when we sleep sometimes and what we experience after we wake up. There seems to me to be no way distinguish 'reality' over a 'dream'. What if, like in inception, all that I might consider as reality is simply a sophisticated dream like state, one where I'll eventually wake up, but have not done so yet.
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      (Original post by whythehellnot)
      Sure, I can get behind the idea that true knowledge of other minds is unjustified. I wouldn't go as far to say that it's clear to me that even I exist though, it's only clear to me that there seems to be thought.

      I agree with your criticism too. (Y)
      I would argue that there is no possible way of knowing whether there is existence outside of one's own mind but it would be foolish to positively assert that there is definitely not. I would argue that we cannot possibly know.
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      (Original post by electriic_ink)
      This is one of the most stupid questions I've ever heard. Can't believe people are taking it seriously tbh.
      Yet you've made no attempt to enrich our understanding of the subject. It may well be stupid, perhaps even pointless, but I can't see why we wouldn't take it seriously. If, like many people, you think our senses are the main source of knowledge, then this thought experiment brings into question all knowledge ascertained through sense experience. How is this not to be taken seriously? :confused:
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      Fill a jug to the brim with water

      And then throw it over yourself

      Simple test with reliable results.
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      (Original post by AnarchistNutter)
      I would argue that there is no possible way of knowing whether there is existence outside of one's own mind but it would be foolish to positively assert that there is definitely not. I would argue that we cannot possibly know.
      To be fair, I've not given this a great deal of thought, but off hand I agree with you. It definitely seems to make sense to me that it's impossible to have justified belief that we can know anything outside of the thoughts that we seem to have.
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      (Original post by bluemax)
      Fill a jug to the brim with water

      And then throw it over yourself

      Simple test with reliable results.
      If I do this and I'm dreaming..I'll just wake up to a wet bed! If I do it in real life, well...I'll be happy that I'm not dreaming (because I won't have wet my bed) but pissed that I now have to change my clothes all the same...
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      (Original post by whythehellnot)
      Classic Descartes. Can you beyond a doubt tell if you're a awake as opposed to dreaming?

      Perhaps there is no fool proof method for this, maybe there is. Either way, what methods could be employed (regardless of if they're fool proof) to attempt to establish if we're sleeping or not?

      My friend suggested that we cannot feel pain whilst we sleep, which is where the expression "pinch me I must be dreaming" surely comes from.

      Ideas?
      I don't think Descartes and philosophers like that were referring to actual dreaming :rolleyes:

      With actual dreaming, yes, you cannot feel pain. If the dream encompasses a situation where you're likely to feel pain, you generally wake up, dissociate into a third-person view, or don't expect or feel the pain, I think.
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      Can most definitely feel pain when asleep. I have a nasty habit of dreaming that I've been shot.
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      I'm a lucid dreamer so I can somewhat control my dreams. The way I 'trained' myself to do this is I would look at a clock, and then look away, and then back again quickly. In a dream, the time often changes.
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      (Original post by Arekkusu)
      I don't think Descartes and philosophers like that were referring to actual dreaming :rolleyes:

      With actual dreaming, yes, you cannot feel pain. If the dream encompasses a situation where you're likely to feel pain, you generally wake up, dissociate into a third-person view, or don't expect or feel the pain, I think.
      Descartes explicitly talks about the effects of dreaming in the 1st of his Meditations with the intent of proving that sensory experience is not indubitable. As such, we should proceed with caution when using empirical evidence towards some form of 'knowledge'.

      It's not obvious to me that it's impossible to feel pain within a dream, you only have to read this thread for a while to see some people have had experience to the contrary.
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      (Original post by JohnC2211)
      I'm a lucid dreamer so I can somewhat control my dreams. The way I 'trained' myself to do this is I would look at a clock, and then look away, and then back again quickly. In a dream, the time often changes.
      The problem with this is, if for some reason you 'blacked out' for a while in 'reality' right at the moment of checking if you're awake or not, you'd conclude that you were dreaming when in fact you were not.
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      When I'm dreaming i think i'm at least semi-aware that I'm dreaming. I don't think I've ever had a dream which i thought was real, most of my dreams are so jumbled and confusing with no logic to them. I know its real life because everything is making sense.
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      when I was at school, I always used to get out of bed, go downstairs and have breakfast, get a shower etc. Then wake up and realise I had to do it all over again.

      Anyway, I don't think there is any sure way of determining if you are awake/sleeping. This is because it depends on the context of a dream (ie are you in a library etc). Secondly, if you were in a library in a dream you might actually understand writing, but which doesn't ctually make sense in real life.
     
     
     
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