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do you know you are not dreaming right now?

Many times the average person wakes up in the morning after experiencing a vivid nightmare.
“““Thank God I was only dreaming,” a person might claim. But a question then arises: is it possible to know for a fact, without a shadow of a doubt, that you actually aren’t dreaming right now? After pondering this question, the conclusion only seems evident that you cannot have true (propositional) knowledge about whether or not you are not dreaming right now.
““In order to have true (propositional) knowledge, the three premises from the Justified True Belief Analysis of Knowledge must apply. In other words, one’s argument must possess the following three qualities: 1) What the subject claims to know must be true, 2) The subject must believe that what they claim to know is true, and 3) the subject must be fully justified in believing what they claim to know to be true.
““When it comes to answering the question of whether or not we are not dreaming right now, we cannot fully answer or prove claims 1 or 3 in the Justified True Belief Analysis of Knowledge.
““Therefore, it seems only appropriate to state that we cannot have true (propositional) knowledge concerning whether or not we are not dreaming right now.
““Let us first address the soundness of the premises of the argument stated, concerning ourselves first with the Justified True Belief Analysis of Knowledge. In order to have true (propositional) knowledge, three conditions have to be met: 1) What the subject claims to know must be true. If, for example, I claim that my philosophy professor has blonde hair when in actuality he has very dark brown hair, I cannot have true knowledge about his hair color. The subject cannot make a false claim and also correctly claim that they have knowledge over the particular topic. This can be represented through a diagram of the argument:.
““a) I claim that I have blonde hair.
““b) I do not have blonde hair; I have dark hair.
““----------------------------------------------------------------------.
““c) Therefore I cannot know (have knowledge) that I have blonde hair.
““Without this premise, many arguments would be invalid, for a false conclusion may be made if what the subject claims to know isn’t true.
““2) The subject must believe that what they claim to know is true. To continue with the example used earlier: if I were to claim that my philosophy professor had blonde hair, but I didn’t believe that he had blonde hair, I wouldn’t have knowledge on the subject. A broader example could pertain to religion. I could claim that God exists, but if I don’t believe he exists then I do not have knowledge of the matter. In this case, his existence (premise 1) is irrelevant, for if one doesn’t believe in his existence (premise 2), the argument has already been proven that the subject doesn’t, in this case, have true knowledge. This could be diagramed as follows:.
““a) I claim a statement to be true.
““b) I do not believe my statement to be true.
““c) One must believe in a certain piece of knowledge in order for them to have knowledge in that area.
““----------------------------------------------------------------------.
““d) Therefore I cannot have knowledge that my statement is true.
““3) The subject must be fully justified in believing what they claim to know to be true. In other words, there must be no reason to suppose the subject is wrong in claiming or believing what they know to be true. To provide an example: if I claimed that I owned a dog, and I believed that I owned a dog, but I had no reason to believe that I owned a dog, then I wouldn’t have true knowledge of my “ownership”. Furthermore, if I claimed I knew that I owned a dog because my dead grandmother told me in a dream that I did, I still wouldn’t have knowledge: this is because there is reason to suppose that I am wrong in believing it. In other words, I would not be fully justified in my claim to knowledge on this particular topic. A possible argument may be:.
““a) I claim that I own a dog.
““b) I believe that I own a dog because my dead grandmother told me in a dream that I own a dog.
““c) A claim to knowledge because one’s dead grandmother told them in a dream that their statement is true is not a valid reason.
““----------------------------------------------------------------------.
““d) Therefore I do not have knowledge about the topic (owning a dog).
““This argument does not even address whether or not I do have a dog. It is because of the subject’s unsound reasoning (speculating that they own a dog for some very odd reasons) that the subject cannot have knowledge pertaining to this topic. Whether or not I even own a dog in this case doesn’t matter.
““This argument can also, once again, be applied to religion. If a subject claimed to believe in a God (whether or not a God existed), the subject cannot claim to have knowledge over God’s existence because the subject was not fully justified in believing that a God existed.
““These three premises, when combined, form the Justified True Belief Analysis of Knowledge, which can be diagramed as follows:.
““a) The subject makes a claim, and what the subject claims to know is true.
““b) The subject believes what they claim to know is true.
““c) The subject is fully justified in believing what they claim to know to be true.
““----------------------------------------------------------------------.
““d) Therefore their claim is a valid claim to knowledge.
““These conditions must be made in order for a person to be able to correctly claim that they have knowledge.
““When applying the Justified True Belief Analysis of Knowledge to the question, “Do you know that you are not dreaming right now?”, a problem arises, for there are evident conflicts with premises a and c in the Justified True Belief Analysis of Knowledge.
““Firstly, concerning premise a: we cannot know (positively) that what we claim to know is true.
““As Descartes explains in his Meditations on First Philosophy, we have no way of proving that we are not dreaming right now, and are possibly about to wake up. In Meditation I (concerning those things that can be called into doubt) he explains: Indeed, how often has it happened that during the night I have dreamt these familiar things, that I am here, dressed, sitting by the fire, although I lie undressed in my bed. But now, at any rate, I am surely gazing at this paper with wakeful eyes, this head I am shaking is not heavy with sleep, I am consciously and deliberately extending this hand, and I am feeling it. In sleep what happens would neither be as clear nor as distinct as these things. But, thinking carefully, I recall having often been deceived by similar thoughts in dream. Now, as I think over these matters more attentively, I see so plainly that there are no conclusive signs nor sufficiently certain indications for distinguishing being awake from dreaming that I am almost amazed. And this very amazement almost convinces me that I am dreaming.
““Based on the skeptic’s claim that if something can at all be doubted, or if something cannot be proven to be true then you cannot have true propositional knowledge, the conclusion would be that one cannot be sure that they have true knowledge pertaining to whether or not they are not dreaming right now.
““This can be illustrated as follows: a) In order to have propositional knowledge on a certain topic (for example, knowing whether or not you’re not dreaming right now), the claim must be true (i.e., you must not be dreaming right now).
““b) It cannot be proven, or we cannot know, whether or not we are not dreaming right now. This is because, for example, our senses have deceived us before and they could again, or people have thought that they were awake before when they were actually in a dream and this could be happening now, or because people can have dreams that they are dreaming and “Life” (as we refer to it) could merely be one long dream.
““----------------------------------------------------------------- c) Therefore, since we cannot know if our claim is true, we can’t know if we have knowledge pertaining to whether or not we are not dreaming right now. In other words, we do not know that we know we are not dreaming right now.
““ Furthermore, it can be argued that premise c of the Justified True Belief Analysis of Knowledge in this example cannot be achieved, for it may not be possible to acquire full justification (even if partial justification may seem reasonable enough). Some possible examples for justification will be given later, but it will become evident that although they are reasonable justifications, they do not give full justification. Therefore, one cannot be certain that they ever have true knowledge.
““This can be shown as follows:.
““a) In order to have true knowledge, one must be fully justified in believing that what they claim to know is true.
““b) Concerning the question of knowing whether or not we are not dreaming right now, full justification cannot be provided.
““----------------------------------------------------------------------.
““c) Therefore we cannot have justified true knowledge about whether or not we are not dreaming right now.
““Some possible rebuttals to this argument may lie in the original argument second premise: “When it comes to answering the question of whether or not we are not dreaming right now, we cannot fully answer or prove claims 1 or 3 in the Justified True Belief Analysis of Knowledge.” Critics may state that this is unsound and that it is possible to know the answer to be true or “yes” (premise 1), or that we can be fully justified in believing their conclusion to be answered affirmatively (premise 3).
““In stating that premise 1 in the Justified True Belief Analysis of Knowledge can be true in this instance, a critic may assert that through tests of brain waves, breathing patterns or REM monitoring, differences can be proven between awakened states and dreaming states (because awakened states possess different body functions and patterns than dreaming states). A possible reply to this, however, could simply be that the subject dreams that these tests exist to differentiate sleeping/awakened states. Other arguments could be given, but because this argument alone shows that there is doubt in this proof, no other argument is needed.
““Other critics may state that premise 3 is possible to achieve-- that it is possible to have full justification in believing that one is not dreaming right now. The fallible person would probably claim that full justification can be justification which is possibly uncertain to a slight degree. For example, Descartes’ depiction of an “evil-genius” is unreasonable, and unreasonable accusations don’t necessarily have to be taken into consideration when considering full justification. To make the point clearer, let us suppose that we have a large jar full of 10,000 marbles. We cannot see into the jar, but is it safe to assume that after pulling out the first 5,000 marbles and seeing that they are all green, the next one we pull out will be green? Without a doubt? After 7,500 marbles are pulled out-- can we be sure then? What about 9,999 marbles? Can we be sure that the next marble pulled out will be green, and that there is no chance that there could be a marble of another color in the jar? A fallible person may answer “yes” to any one of these questions; however, the definition of full justification entails having no reason to doubt. No matter what the chances are that the next marble pulled out won’t be green, no matter how thin they are-- there is a chance. Therefore there is a doubt. Therefore there isn’t full justification.
““Therefore, we cannot have true knowledge about whether or not we are not dreaming right now. In summary, this can be proven in the following argument:.
““a) In order to have true knowledge, the following three conditions ( from the Justified True Belief Analysis of Knowledge ) must be met:.
““1) what the subject claims to know must be true,.
““2) the subject must believe that what they claim to know is true, and.
““3) the subject must be fully justified in believing what they claim to know to be true.
““b) When it comes to answering the question of whether or not we are not dreaming right now, we cannot fully answer or prove claims 1 or 3 in the Justified True Belief Analysis of Knowledge.
““----------------------------------------------------------------------
““c) Therefore we cannot have true (propositional) knowledge concerning whether or not we are not dreaming right now.
““Although this argument may seem unreasonable or outrageous in the respect of considering even unreasonable (or almost impossible) possibilities in the achievement of its goal, it is ultimately not farfetched at all. In an endless universe, most anything could happen-- and, more importantly, everything has the opportunity for happening. Even if these ideas seem far-fetched, it doesn’t matter. For as long as there is a slight possibility that there is but a shred of doubt, then that shred of doubt must be taken into consideration.
““In light of this argument, Descartes’ conclusion seems only appropriate. “This very amazement almost convinces me that I am dreaming.”




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