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How to prove existence?

  1. Aug 30, 2008 #1
    Hey my smart *** English teacher is always asking us to try and prove our existence to him....... When someone tries to say "Well you can see me can't you?" He'll reply "Have your eyes never deceived you before? Is that lake in the middle of the desert that always moves away from you when you get close to it real?" When you try to say "Well you can feel me...." He has another smart *** remark :P You go through all the senses and he manages to come up with an excuse for all of them.... So I was thinking, "Hmmmmm if I could prove my existence to this guy it would put me on his good side and most likely make the class easier for me...." So now I leave you with my question, is there any way to prove existence?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 31, 2008 #2
    The next time he does this ask him to define the word existence or ask what does it mean to exist in the first place?
  4. Aug 31, 2008 #3
    Ooo that's good dude! Thanks. I'll see how that one goes over on him :P Thanks for the quick reply :D
  5. Aug 31, 2008 #4


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    I know I exist. Since you are the one I am not sure of, I see no point in trying to prove to you that I exist!
  6. Aug 31, 2008 #5
    No somebody has tried that remark but it just isn't witty enough.... You know what I mean?
  7. Aug 31, 2008 #6
    Jackalope, let me convince you that I exist. But let me first confirm this: are you asking ME if I exist? If not then fine, I don't need to prove anything to you and we are done.

    But if yes then since you are deliberately asking me something then you already know that I exist. If you didn't know this, then you wouldn't even consider speaking to me, and that should be proof enough for you.

    But what's this retort you just made? "I may be an illusion?" Sure, but "what I am" is not what you were asking. Even if I am an illusion, the illusion exists since you are asking it a question. As long as you are addressing "something" then this "something" is relevant to you in some way and therefore this "something" exists (because what doesn't exist is not relevant).
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2008
  8. Aug 31, 2008 #7
    Following out of whacks post, ask him this -> "if i didnt exist why would you be asking me this question?"
  9. Aug 31, 2008 #8
    you can't prove anything exists besides yourself. Search the archives, and you'll find some deep conversation on the concept of existence.

    That wouldn't work octelgodopod, due to he could say something along the lines "If I don't exist then I'm not asking you this question, prove to me my existence" (two non-existent beings having a conversation)

    I think that's what the original question was to prove all existence..maybe it was just to prove something exists.

    Then your at a stalemate, and he wins.
  10. Sep 2, 2008 #9
    No it was to prove that I exist.....
  11. Sep 10, 2008 #10
    Okay, I've had this question asked to me a billion times in my philosophy class :bugeye:

    Actually, I have a project to do in that class. All we have to do is "Define and prove your existence" ...but we can't do it in an essay o_O Damn creative ways! If anyone has any ideas for what I can do, feel free to help me out, ha ha :smile:

    But yeah, back to your problem... I can share with you a few points I jotted down for my project...

    Fist off, we have "Why it can't be a dream," since that's what my teacher always likes to claim. "It's all an illusion! We are actually sleeping, Matrix style, in some crazy pods!" So, my arguments where...

    - We'd all have to be having the same dream, since we interact with each other. Highly unlikely.
    - We can't think logically in dreams, feel pain, OR question our actions. We can in life.
    - You can't have an illusion within an illusion; it's too complicated. Too much room for errors that would make us question the fake 'reality' we are living in. So pretty much, dreams wouldn't work.

    And if all else fails, go with the good old point "Why does it matter?"

    - If it is all an illusion, we will never know otherwise.
    - As long as we belive it's reality, it becomes our own little reality.
    - If we find out it is an illusion, then we just need to stive for our actual reality.

    Some thing you might want to talk about if arguing the "Why does it matter?" thing is "The Allegory of the Cave" which was posed by Plato.

    Here's the picture: http://lssacademy.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/cave.jpg

    It's pretty much a story about these prisoners, chained to some chairs in a cave. They've been there all their lives and don't know anything else exists. Behind them is a fire, and their captors walk in front of it with weird shapes (cat, tree, etc.). The shadows show up on the wall the prisoners see, so to them, that is life. That IS reality. One day, one of the guys breaks the chains and goes free. He wanders out of the cave, and sees the world.

    Now, he would have to go back and tell everyone what he saw, but the thing is, is that the right thing to do? If he tells them, some might love him, saying "Thank you! Now I know there is more to life!" Others might hate him, saying, "What the heck man! I was fine when THIS was my reality! Now I'll be depressed all my life knowing what's really going on!"

    I'm not sure if that story will help you any, but who knows, it might :tongue:

    But one thing you SHOULD know is this: "Cogito ergo sum" It's a Latin quote by René Descartes. It means "I think, therefore I am" It pretty much means if we can question our existence and reality, then that is proof enough that we DO exist and it IS real.

    ...I hope that helps you, ha ha! And if anyone has any ideas for my project, please, feel free to share :biggrin:
  12. Sep 10, 2008 #11
    I say the same thing to you. Prove me wrong *****!
  13. Oct 3, 2008 #12
    Thank you for taking the time to type all this. I think this might help me out :D
  14. Feb 4, 2010 #13
    "I think therefore I am".... This means that I know I exist but I dont know you exist... This then leads onto metaphysical skepticism. The whole universe and everyone and thing in it, except for myself does not exist, other than within my own thoughts.

    Keeping this simple. If we consider the big bang, the creation of the universe seems to be impossible as to why it happened in the first place. Not how, but why. It would be far simpler to conclude it didnt happen and therefore does not exist. This supports: I think therefore I am but you may not exist.

    My answer would be, "Cogito ergo sum,.. however, I dont know you exist, prove to me you exist."
    Which is actually what he is asking you, and of course you can't.

    Could write pages on this subject, but its not a healthy place to go.

    p.s. because he asked the question does not mean he exists. Like when it rains does not mean the water is real .
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2010
  15. Feb 5, 2010 #14
    Close...but that is not really what Descartes said.

    'Cogito Ergo Sum' doesn't address knowledge of other people.

    Descartes was looking for 'certainty'.

    His argument is about 'certain knowledge', not just knowledge. He was looking for a way to refute the radical skeptics who questioned everything.

    The argument goes like this: As a radical skeptic, one could honestly doubt many things, but there is one thing that I cannot honestly doubt; that I am doubting.
    I am therefore 'something that doubts', or minimally, 'doubting exists'. Its what philosophers call 'self-evident'.

    From there he went on to logically 'prove' that he could know that other people and even god exists.

    Those proofs have been questioned by lots of people, but his argument about 'certain knowledge of the self' has been very influencial.
  16. Feb 5, 2010 #15


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    Be really loud and disruptive during class and when he confronts you then ask him:
    "Do I exist?"
    If he doesn't answer yes, then continue being disruptive. Give him another chance a moment later:
    "Do I exist?"
    If he doesn't answer yes, continue being disruptive...
  17. Feb 5, 2010 #16
    Refer him to the DSM-IV r, (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, revised) - code 300.6: "Depersonalization disorder."

    Be sure to offer a referral for professional diagnosis and treatment.
  18. Feb 5, 2010 #17


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    hrm... I wonder if that's associated with the angular gyrus at all.
  19. Feb 5, 2010 #18
    Or try...

    Concubitus, ergo sum, sum, sum.
  20. Feb 5, 2010 #19
  21. Feb 5, 2010 #20


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    You know, this is a really creative solution.
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