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Descartes, Rene - The illusion of Insanity and the false awakening

Identifier

014489

Type of Spiritual Experience

Background

A wonderful quote because he is actually asking the question - how do we define insanity, given that in dreams we might be justifiably called insane.  The only difference is that some people are having a partial bout of insanity during a dream [and asleep] and others have the insanity on a permanent or semi-permanent basis [occasionally whilst awake].

To put this another way - we are all insane, some a bit more than others.

Or we are all sane, but at times we have moments of madness, sometimes when we are awake and sometimes when we are asleep.

Or we are all sane and the so called moments of madness diagnosed by doctors are the only time when we actually experience reality, which means that those who classify us as insane - doctors, who pride themsleves on being free of all forms of madness - are the most insane of all of us, as they have never experienced reality.

A description of the experience

Rene Descartes – Key Philosophical Writings

 I am here seated by the fire, attired in a dressing gown, having this paper in my hands and other similar matters.  And how could I deny that these hands and this body are mine, were it not perhaps that I compare myself to certain persons, devoid of sense, whose cerebella are so troubled and clouded...... that they constantly assure us that … they are clothed in purple when they are really without covering, or who imagine that they have an earthenware head or are nothing but pumpkins or are made of glass.. 

But they are mad, and I should not be any the less insane were I to follow examples so extravagant.  

At the same time I must remember that... in my dreams representing to myself the same thing or even less probable things, than do those who are insane in their waking moments. 

How often has it happened to me that in the night I dreamt that I found myself in this particular place, that was dressed and seated by the fire, whilst in reality I was lying undressed in bed

The source of the experience

Descartes, Rene

Concepts, symbols and science items

Symbols

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps

Commonsteps

References