I know that the Daily Stab normally deals with celebrity topics, but I just saw this article on lucid dreaming and I had to add my two cents.
Have you ever had a dream where you are in control of your dream? If you’ve had such a dream, then you’ve had a lucid dream. I just can’t don’t believe anyone has ever had one. The problem is that there is no way for you to know that you’ve had a lucid dream. People claim that they know. But I don’t see how this is possible? How can you know that you’re dreaming when you’re dreaming? You might think you’re aware that you’re dreaming when you’re dreaming. But how do you know that this isn’t part of the dream? If you can’t know that you’re dreaming when you’re dreaming, then you could never control your dreams. And if you can’t control your dreams, then you can’t have lucid dreams.
Don’t you remember the philosopher Descartes who asked “How do I know that I’m not dreaming now?” His argument is that if he doesn’t know that he’s dreaming when he’s dreaming, then he can’t know that he’s awake when he’s awake, and so he can’t know what he thinks he knows about the world outside of his mind. If people can lucid dream, then the first premise is false. One can know that one’s dreaming when one’s dreaming. I don’t think this argument is good for a different reason, namely I don’t think the intermediate conclusion follows. Although I believe that one cannot know that one is dreaming when one is dreaming, I don’t think it follows that one cannot know that one is awake when one is awake. The argument is of this bad form: One cannot know that one is alive when one is dead. So one cannot know that one is alive when one is alive. Bad argument. So is Descartes’s argument. But I still think his first premise is true that one cannot know that one is dreaming when one is dreaming. So I still believe that one cannot lucid dream.