Lesson Plan - Get It!
What is one thing you know one-hundred percent for sure? Maybe your brain is in a laboratory vat and the world you know is a computer-generated fantasy. Whoa! Freak me out!
The great seventeenth-century thinker Rene Descartes (pronounced /day cart/) was bothered by something: He imagined that maybe the world was an illusion created by a demon, just to deceive him.
He felt like the world around him was real, like there were objects and people, events and feelings.
- How could he be one-hundred percent sure about any of them, though?
- How could he prove without any doubt that anything really existed?
Surely, we all notice times when our senses deceive us. Take a moment and make a list of experiences in which our mind plays tricks on us.
- How many can you come up with?
It turns out the list of illusions is pretty long.
- Dreams are a big example, and we have all experienced dreams that we were completely convinced were real. Sometimes, even after waking, it takes a few moments to accept that we were fooled by our sleeping mind.
- The “colors” we see are only a tiny portion of the full range of the full spectrum of light, and not everyone perceives these colors to be the same.
- In social situations, we can imagine a friend to be hostile or angry towards us, but it turns out to be completely untrue.
- Then there is the old spoon-in-a-glass-of-water illusion in which the spoon appears to be split in two.
Here is a question to reflect upon; write your response in your notebook or journal:
- How can you prove, beyond any doubt whatsoever, that you are not dreaming right now?
That is a tough question — and you may think a silly one — but it's one many philosophers have struggled with over the centuries.
In the Got It? section, discover an answer to that question that you can believe one-hundred percent without any doubt whatsoever.