more from Zhuangzi (Chuang Tzu)

Single Idea 7285

[catalogued under 13. Knowledge Criteria / D. Scepticism / 5. Dream Scepticism]

Full Idea

Once I, Chuang Tzu, dreamt that I was a butterfly, flitting around and enjoying myself. Suddenly I woke and was Chuang Tzu again. But had I been Chuang Tzu dreaming I was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming I was now Chuang Tzu?

Gist of Idea

Did Chuang Tzu dream he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dream he was Chuang Tzu?


Zhuangzi (Chuang Tzu) (The Book of Chuang Tzu [c.329 BCE], Ch.2)

Book Reference

Chuang Tzu: 'The Book of Chuang Tzu', ed/tr. Palmer,M /Breuilly,E [Penguin 1996], p.20

A Reaction

Plato (Idea 2047) also spotted this problem, later made famous by Descartes (Idea 2250). Given the size of a butterfly's brain, this suggests that Chuang Tzu was a dualist. What can't I take the idea seriously, when reason says I should?

Related Ideas

Idea 2047 What evidence can be brought to show whether we are dreaming or not? [Plato]