Up@dawn 2.0

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Aimee Wilson Section 12 Third Post on Sleep

Descartes had a theory on sleep referred to as the retirement view which says that the mind continues to think throughout sleep but the thoughts cannot be remember. Locke had a theory referred to as the black-out view which says that the mind shuts down during dreamless sleep. Gottfried Leibniz had a theory on sleep which was kind of a combination of these two theories. He agrees with Descartes in that he believes that the mind is always thinking while in dreamless sleep. However, he agrees with Locke in that he believes that no conscious thinking occurs in sleep. The thoughts are unconscious by means that they are “unfocused, fragmented and unattended to” (Hill). Let me make a comparison to a medical case that I first saw on Grey’s Anatomy. In one of the episodes a man was blind but he was only consciously blind which is termed cortical blindness. If something was thrown at him he can catch it even though he is blind and cannot see anything. His unconscious mind saw the pen which made him react in a way to catch it. When I first read about Leibniz theory I could not help but relate it to this scenario. The patient does not remember unconsciously seeing the pen thrown much like we do not remember our unconscious thoughts. The comparison that Hill mentions in his paper is that of someone noticing a ticking clock which has suddenly stopped ticking. While it is ticking you may never realize it, but once it stops you hear the “silence.” In order to notice the silence you had to have been perceiving the ticking sound in some unconscious way even though you do not remember it or you would not have noticed when it stopped. In conclusion, these three blogposts have discussed René Descartes, John Locke, and Gottfried Leibniz contradictory theories as to what happens while someone sleeps.

1 comment:

  1. Philosophers nowadays don't tend to offer sleep theories, leaving that to neuroscientists; but of course when Descartes, Locke, & Leibniz theorized there was no practical distinction between philosophy and natural science.

    In any event, the question of what it means philosophically to be awake is still important. I'm generally not a Leibniz fan, but he was onto something with the suggestion that it's a matter of finally attending consciously to that which was previously unnoticed. So much in life depends on attention!