Leonard Peikoff wrote in OPAR on page 41:
Aristotle in On Dreams:
Rather than attempt to refute the idea that life is possibly a dream, a simple validation of consciousness as - a state of awareness by means of the senses, as distinct from a validation of the concept of dreaming - a state that the awareness is not by means of the senses, should be sufficient for any rationally honest individual to differentiate that there is a distinguishable difference.
By pinching the person hard and ask him if that was a dream !
answered Mar 01 '11 at 05:05
I think the best answer would be the one provided by the one making the positive assertion. The onus of proof isn't on you to refute the statement. I'm sure that a person could assert that we are all living in a dream. But, it's their job to prove that we are. Since an argument would have to start with an arbitrary statement, there are really two ways to handle this:
1) Ignore the arbitrary statement (i.e. "suppose life is a dream") from the outset, regardless of the deductive argument used and regardless of how brilliant it might seem. The arbitrary is neither true nor false.
2) Make them prove their assertion. In other words, have them show you how they themselves arrived at such a notion, inductively. They won't be able to do it. When they cannot, you may simply point out the rationalism in their previous argument and dismiss the arbitrary notion as arbitrary. That or simply tell them that they really don't know that what they're asserting is true (though, if they are a skeptic, you might get yourself into a whole 'nuther argument).
answered Mar 01 '11 at 09:42
David Lewis ♦
Suggest the idea to a child (say, 5-7 years old). The only evidence he has is his senses. He has been using that to learn to distinguish objects, make sounds, walk, talk, use the swing, count and read. Suggest to him that this might all be a dream. Any but the most highly controlled child (one that relies on others to understand the world instead of his own senses), will laugh and tell you, you are so silly! It takes a special kind of mind acrobatics to come up with such an idea and believe in it. To achieve it, one must separate from reality so dramatically, that finding his way back is near impossible.
So in terms of rhetoric, you will probably never win the argument. Your opponent is too far in the clouds to talk about the earth.
But here is a shot: * define reality as that, which we experience, observe, or can deduce based on observations (e.g. the other side of the moon). * anyone who claims something other than that, will need to define what he means by reality. This is hard without using concepts, such as existence, senses, experience (which would then have to be defined in this system, too!) You will find that anyone making the dream reality argument is using stolen concepts that mean something specific, then applying them to some alternate system, in which they would have to mean something different - without defining them!
answered May 20 '11 at 01:07
Kate Yoak ♦