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I had a midterm question where this was relevant, essentially it was:

"Assuming you're an atheist, how would you prove to Descartes that your last vacation wasn't a dream?"

I put that since Descartes believes in God, your beliefs are irrelevant and since God is not a deceiver (according to Descartes), he would not deceive you into thinking your experience was a dream. But that wasn't right. So I'm trying to figure out what the answer was.

I've only seen statements and analyses of the problem he poses in First Meditations, not the resolution to the problem.

Can anyone summarize for me his proof?

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Well, it would seem to me he doesn't seek to prove he's not dreaming -- this can't really be done (convincingly, anyway, to my mind); all the cogito demonstrates is the existence of the thinker/doubter. –  Joseph Weissman Oct 20 '12 at 0:59
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Also -- surely we can formulate a more specific problem here than "summarize the Meditations"; is there any chance I might be able to persuade you to develop your concern a bit further, maybe tell us a bit more about the context and motivations behind the question? –  Joseph Weissman Oct 20 '12 at 1:51
    
I'm not asking for a summary of the Meditations, just a summary of his proof wherein he shows he isn't dreaming. –  Tyler Oct 20 '12 at 7:37
    
Can you tell us a little more about the context and motivations behind your concern? (Where might you have found indications he attempts to demonstrate this? What might you be reading or studying that has made this an important problem for you?) –  Joseph Weissman Oct 20 '12 at 7:44
    
I had a midterm question where this was relevant, essentially it was "Assuming you're an atheist, how would you prove to Descartes that your last vacation wasn't a dream." I put that since Descartes believes in God, your beliefs are irrelevant and since God is not a deceiver (according to Descartes), he would not deceive you into thinking your experience was a dream. But that wasn't right. So I'm trying to figure out what the answer was. –  Tyler Oct 20 '12 at 8:02

1 Answer 1

Descartes a priori assumptions were: mathematical statements are valid and God is not a deceiver (note that the latter implies the former). The reason why God is not a deceiver is because God is a perfect being (according to Descartes), and cannot deceive us in anyway. If God is not a deceiver then God gave us senses which are not totally unreliable. This means we can tell when we are dreaming.

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Just to let you know, his proofs are not actually proofs by today's standards. Any argument about God is and will be invalid because, believe it or not, there is no definition of God. Any definition leads to contradictions. –  glebovg Nov 13 '12 at 23:29

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