Cartesian Skepticism, Kantian Skepticism, and the Dreaming Hypothesis
Keywords:Skepticism, Dreaming, Wittgenstein, Nonsense
Based on the distinction drawn by James Conant between Cartesian skepticism and Kantian skepticism, I intend to show that Wittgenstein’s remarks on dreaming should not be understood as a direct attack on the former, as commonly held, but as an indirect attack on it, for Wittgenstein approaches Descartes’ dreaming hypothesis by changing the very problematic at stake. Wittgenstein’s attack on skepticism takes one step back from a question about how to distinguish between dreaming that one is experiencing something and actually experiencing it, for this attack focuses on the linguistic conditions of the possibility of something that the Cartesian problematic takes for granted, that is, the very possibility of saying “I am dreaming.” I also intend to show that Wittgenstein’s remarks on dreaming should be read in light of his claim that skepticism is nonsensical put forward in the Tractatus logico-philosophicus as well in his last writings. More specifically, I intend to show that the words “I am dreaming” are nonsensical in the same sense as the alleged proposition “There are physical objects” and the expression of doubt about the existence of physical objects or the external world.
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