By Willis (ed) Doney
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Additional info for Descartes: A Collection of Critical Essays
By 1. W. Beck [Chicago, 1949], p. 275). 4 As Gilson puts Descartes' view: "Sleep does not constitute in itself a state of error, but simply, because of physiological conditions, a state less favorable than waking to the free exercise of thought" (E. Gilson, Rene Descartes: Discours de la Methode: Texte et commentaire [Paris, 1930], p. 366). e. states of consciousness, mental occurrences, mental acts. As Descartes says in a letter: I had good reason to assert that the human soul is always conscious in any circumstances-even in a mother's womb.
3 Other philosophers have held it too. Aristotle, in a short paper on dreams, says: "It is . . a fact that the soul makes . . assertions in sleep" (De Somnis, in The Basic 'Vorks of Aristotle, cd. by R. McKeon [New York, 194r], p. 618). Kant, in An Inquiry into the Distinctness of the Principles of Natural Theology and Mora/s, says: "In deepest sleep perhaps the greatest perfection of the mind might be exercised in rational thought. For we have no reason for asserting the opposite except that we do not remember the idea when awake.
It would be amusing if you took me as claiming that I am sound asleep and then concluded from this that I am sound asleep. ") The absurdity that would lie in the use of the sentence "I am sound asleep" as an assertion consists in this: if a person claims that he is sound asleep then he is not sound asleep. " TIIere is a sense of "says" in which a person says whatever words come out of his mouth. In this sense a man who is sound asleep can say things: he may talk in his sleep. He could say, in this sense, "I am sound asleep"; but this would not prove that he is not sound asleep.
Descartes: A Collection of Critical Essays by Willis (ed) Doney