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On Being Immoral in a Dream

  • Gareth B. Matthews (a1)

What is often called Descartes' dream problem (‘How do I know that I am not now dreaming?’) should perhaps be called Plato's dream problem instead. Certainly it can be found in Plato's Theaetetus at 158b–c. It can also be found in Cicero (Academica 2.27.88) and, through Cicero's influence, in much of the work of St Augustine.

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1 De trinitate 15.12.21; The Trinity, McKenna Stephen (trans.) (Washington, DC: Catholic University Press, 1963), 481.

2 Confessions, Pine-Coffin R. S. (trans.) (New York: Penguin Books, 1961), 233234 (10.30).

3 Against the Academicians, Garvey Mary P. (trans.) (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 1957) 69 (3.11.26).

4 Commentary on the Lord's Sermon on the Mount, Kavanagh Denis J. (trans.) (Washington, DC: Catholic University Press of America, 1951), 5253 (1.12.33–4).

5 Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, V, Saint Augustin: Anti-Pelagian Writings, Schaff Philip (ed.) (New York: Christian Literature Co., 1887), 161 (3.6).

6 p. 234.

7 Meditations on First Philosophy, Lafleur Laurence J. (trans.) (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1960), 55 (AT VII 46, HR I 175).

8 Letter to Elizabeth, 1 September 1645, Descartes: Philosophical Letters, Kenny Anthony (trans.) (Oxford University Press, 1970), 167168.

9 This is a shortened version of a paper presented at the annual Classical Philosophy Colloquium at Princeton University, 9 December 1978.

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  • ISSN: 0031-8191
  • EISSN: 1469-817X
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