Monday, November 8, 2010

Descartes vs Freud

In his "Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason, and Seeking Truth in the Sciences," Descartes asserts that humans, as rational beings, should not value their dreams since they are illusionary. He states, "For, in fine, whether awake or asleep, we ought never to allow ourselves be persuaded of the truth of anything unless on the evidence of our reason." Descartes gives an example of this when he writes about the sun, and how we should not think that the sun is only as big as we perceive it.
In contrast, Freud wrote his "Interpretations of Dreams" in which he suggested that the unconscious exists and is important in understanding actions. Freud called dreams the "royal road to the unconscious," meaning that dreams show the "logic" of the unconscious mind.


Chloe said...

I actually have to agree with Freud's perspective of dreams. I think dreams aren't just "illusionary", but are valuable traces of logic in an unconscious mind. Although Descartes emphasizes the importance of the connection between the soul and and the rational mind, I think Freud makes a valid point that we can learn from our dreams.

C-Sted said...

I would personally side with Descartes in this argument. Descartes is stating the importance of knowing things only scientifically through reason. Believing things to be true based solely on our perceptions is unscientific. Interestingly, some modern scientists and philosophers have actually criticized the very concept of the unconscious mind as being unscientific because of its lack of falsifiability. The definition of the unconscious mind is so broad that it allows it to be connected with any theory of theory of the mind. As a result, it cannot be ruled out by experiment and is therefore unscientific!
Also, what is the logic of the unconscious mind? I think this is an important question, especially when one considers that there is not even a standard definition for the unconsciousness.

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