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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Malcolm on dreaming Simpson, R. L.


Norman Malcolm's view that dreams are not experiences in sleep rests in large part on Wittgenstein's attempts to eliminate the problem of other minds. In showing that Malcolm's position is untenable, a number of views of Wittgenstein's, particularly those concerning 'private language', are shown to be mistaken. The view that dreams are not experiences of which dream memories are the later recollections is first defended against some obvious objections. It is argued that a sufficiently rich dream life would be a second life in a second real world. What this shows is that Wittgenstein's attempt to eliminate reliance on the 'inner' by an appeal to public 'criteria' presupposes knowledge of an external world, which in turn must be based on the 'inner'. Wittgenstein's views on privacy are examined and it is argued that they are without foundation. Malcolm's conclusion that the privacy of dreams makes it impossible within a dream to distinguish between using a word consistently and seeming to use it consistently is accordingly rejected. Malcolm's views on 'criteria' and the identity of concepts are attacked. It is argued that there is no principled way of individuating concepts. The claim that the meaning of 'dream' is determined by that to which one has access when awake, i.e., dream memories, is rejected. It is shown that the incompatibility between being sound asleep and manifesting experiences is no more reason to suppose that a sleeper cannot have experiences than it is to suppose that a stoic cannot. Finally, it is argued that rejection of Malcolm's position need not lead to radical skepticism as to whether one is dreaming or not.

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