William Temple on Descartes’ Faux Pas

Personally I find it not at all impossible to entertain the fancy that all our experience, that of self included, is part of the dream of a Demiurge, that all of it

shall dissolve/And like this insubstantial pageant faded,/Leave not a rack behind./We are such stuff/As dreams are made on, and our little life/Is rounded with a sleep

—not our sleep, but that of the Demiurge.  I cannot refute that hypothesis, and I find it possible to contemplate it without intellectual turmoil.  I am equally unable, no doubt, to refute the notion that my primary assurance is of myself, and that my awareness of the world about me is secondary and derivative.  But I cannot contemplate that hypothesis without intellectual perturbation of the profoundest kind—a perturbation with is the deposit of all the acrobatic feats by which philosophers from Descartes to Kant have worked out the implications of that hypothesis and tried to avoid becoming entangled by it in manifest nonsense.

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