I think, therefore, I am.

  • Thread starter Mentat
  • Start date

Was Descartes right?

  • Yes

    Votes: 25 75.8%
  • No

    Votes: 8 24.2%

  • Total voters
    33
  • #276
73
0
Who are the 18 people who said No to the poll?
I think this is a clearcut yes.
 
  • #277
PhysicsRocks88
Originally posted by Mentat
This philosophy of Descarte has been brought up numerous times, in the old PFs. I'm just starting it up again.

Descarte gave an illustration that went (somewhat) as follows:

And Evil Demon sought to convince a man that everything he (the man) had ever believed, was false. The Demon had such power that it almost succeeded. The only thing that the Demon could not prove to the man was that the man himself did not exist. It could not do this because you cannot convince someone that doesn't exist, of anything. From this came the saying, "I think, therefore, I am".

What is your opinion?
If by "am" he meant exist, he is so obviously wrong.

Many things which do you think still exist.

Can you convince someone who thinks that he/she does not exist?

Of course you can. There are plenty of mentally retarded or abnormal people who would readily believe this if told it to them by an authority.

Descartes was a 100% jack-ass. Oh wait, a jack-ass philosopher, that's redundant!!!!!!!!!!
 
  • #278
73
0
I think you're wrong.
If you think you exist, infact it's the only think you know for your.
There may be a reason why mentally retarted people might believe they don't exist, it's because THEY'RE RETARDED!
 
  • #279
PhysicsRocks88
Originally posted by Dave
I think you're wrong.
If you think you exist, infact it's the only think you know for your.
There may be a reason why mentally retarted people might believe they don't exist, it's because THEY'RE RETARDED!

Thanks for making 100% no sense. You did not use a single proper sentence, and made word-change errors.

I see you're from New Zealand - that sucks bad enough that I won't rag on you more...
 
  • #280
Another God
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
976
3
ummm...physicsrocks88...if you keep up this attitude, I can promise you right now that You won't be around for much longer. That sort of stuff isn't tolerated in here.

I don't think your first post there was particularly helpful, and then your second one was just ad hominen and a complete waste of every readers time. Please stop it.
 
  • #281
akhenaten
Originally posted by Dave
I think you're wrong.
If you think you exist, infact it's the only think you know for your.
There may be a reason why mentally retarted people might believe they don't exist, it's because THEY'RE RETARDED!
Wow, this is pretty deep stuff Dave - I never saw it in this way before.
 
  • #282
akhenaten
Originally posted by Mentat
Yes it may, but not if Entity A doesn't have a mind and cannot think about being convinced by a hypothetical Entity B. IOW, unless Entity A exists, it cannot think about not existing - it thinks therefore it is. However, you would be correct in saying that Descartes' reasoning only validates the belief in his own existence, it does not invalidate Solipsism (or any other Idealistic reasoning), as some think it does.
Dammit! Caught out by careless language again! Let me rephrase that:

---------------------------------------------------------------------

I think you barking up the wrong tree here. The doubt about the existence of Entity A may arise spontaneously

----------------------------------------------------------------------

I think this all boils down to what is meant or implied by 'exist' and what the nature of the knowledge of this existence is.

I don't think anyone really doubts that they are some sort of mentally active 'system', for all reasonable pragmatic purposes at least. But what are the limits to this?

- I might not be who or where I seem to be. I might be in some sort of 'Matrix'. So, the 'I' might not be what I think it is.

- It is not safe to assume these rationality of the thought processes are infallible, the logic could be flawed at any step, and I have no way to check this without continuing to rely on logic

- There is no reason to assume the awareness of the thoughts is perfect. There is only changing appearance of phenomena as with all other phenomena. There is no reference point against which I can check this.

- Each thought might be an illusion, from an external source

From this it seem that it is reasonable to deduce one's own existence from apparent phenomena, it is not reasonable to see one 'self' as special or separate from other phenomena, nor is knowledge of it perfect or fundamentally different to that of other phenomena. Few would question their own existence as an object and mentality, its just the conclusion of the existence of a special existential self that is flawed. Many do not have such a sense of self, including young children, Buddhists and anyone fully absorbed in something or under the influence of certain psychoactive drugs.
 
  • #283
3,762
2
Originally posted by akhenaten
Dammit! Caught out by careless language again! Let me rephrase that:

---------------------------------------------------------------------

I think you barking up the wrong tree here. The doubt about the existence of Entity A may arise spontaneously

----------------------------------------------------------------------
It doesn't matter. "The doubt of the existence of Entity A..." already implies that there is (at least conceptually) an Entity A. It is the flaw of Aristotelian Logic, and was already discussed on this thread.

However, I would be interested in a thread about how thoughts can spontaneously arise, with no one to think them. You should start a thread like that.

I think this all boils down to what is meant or implied by 'exist' and what the nature of the knowledge of this existence is.

I don't think anyone really doubts that they are some sort of mentally active 'system', for all reasonable pragmatic purposes at least. But what are the limits to this?

- I might not be who or where I seem to be. I might be in some sort of 'Matrix'. So, the 'I' might not be what I think it is.
Very true, but you'd still exist (just making sure we're clear on that).

- It is not safe to assume these rationality of the thought processes are infallible, the logic could be flawed at any step, and I have no way to check this without continuing to rely on logic
Ah, but your deduction about the possibility of their being a flaw, and the fact that you can't use logic to find it, both relied on logic. Yes, that is the human paradigm, and we are stuck with it.

- There is no reason to assume the awareness of the thoughts is perfect. There is only changing appearance of phenomena as with all other phenomena. There is no reference point against which I can check this.
I don't understand this point, please expound.

- Each thought might be an illusion, from an external source
And yet, the one that was "tricked" by this "external source" would have to exist (on top of which, they would have to think, otherwise they would not be susceptible (sp?) to mind tricks).

From this it seem that it is reasonable to deduce one's own existence from apparent phenomena, it is not reasonable to see one 'self' as special or separate from other phenomena, nor is knowledge of it perfect or fundamentally different to that of other phenomena.
Interesting enough, and I don't/haven't disputed this. I simply disputed the idea that one can think without existing. They may be part of the "whole" of existence, or they may be seperate, but they must exist.

Few would question their own existence as an object and mentality, its just the conclusion of the existence of a special existential self that is flawed. Many do not have such a sense of self, including young children, Buddhists and anyone fully absorbed in something or under the influence of certain psychoactive drugs.
You have a point. You should include it in the thread - that I mentioned earlier - should you choose to start a thread like that.
 
  • #284
akhenaten
Originally posted by Mentat
I don't understand this point, please expound.
If we had perfect knowledge of our own thoughts, we should expect them to arise in perfect clarity, lack of knowledge of them or gaps in them should not be an issue. Sometimes I don't realise I've been thinking something except in retrospect and sometimes thoughts hide beneath the surface only to emerge in dreams, or reverie - if there is such a thing as the subconscious (and there is good reason to think there is) then these are thoughts of which we have only partial awareness. Also, more modern psychological and neurological research shows that the vast majority of even our cognitive functions goes on without awareness or with distorted awareness - events (internal and external) are often resequenced in time by the mind.

It also seems possible to have a temporarily divided awareness.

Knowledge of thoughts seems to be no more perfect than anything else. Rather it seems that the mind is a geography of mental events, which is what we should expect from the structure of the brain. Brain activity does not occur at a single point in space, nor is all brain information routed to a single point.


Originally posted by Mentat
And yet, the one that was "tricked" by this "external source" would have to exist (on top of which, they would have to think, otherwise they would not be susceptible (sp?) to mind tricks).
The trick to being thoroughly sceptical is to assume nothing. Forget all your previous knowledge about the brain and mind. These thoughts could be objectively existing things appearing in some sort of space. Or they could be ripples in a tank of some selfless mental medium. (what's the philosophical difference between that and the thoughts appearing as things in an objective space - why does either imply the existence of a self?)


Originally posted by Mentat
You have a point. You should include it in the thread - that I mentioned earlier - should you choose to start a thread like that.
Hmmm...I was thinking of winding this down. I'm spending too much time on it. Life is short.
 
  • #285
3,762
2
Originally posted by akhenaten
The trick to being thoroughly sceptical is to assume nothing. Forget all your previous knowledge about the brain and mind. These thoughts could be objectively existing things appearing in some sort of space. Or they could be ripples in a tank of some selfless mental medium. (what's the philosophical difference between that and the thoughts appearing as things in an objective space - why does either imply the existence of a self?)
Well, it implies the existence of a self, as an existant entity, but it doesn't imply that you exist seperate from everything else, or that you are an "individual". It seems that, throughout all of your participation here, you have been combating the idea of "individual selves" instead of the idea that our thoughts are conclusive evidence of our existence.
 
  • #286
akhenaten
Originally posted by Mentat
Well, it implies the existence of a self, as an existant entity, but it doesn't imply that you exist seperate from everything else, or that you are an "individual". It seems that, throughout all of your participation here, you have been combating the idea of "individual selves" instead of the idea that our thoughts are conclusive evidence of our existence.
That and the idea that awareness of our minds does not have a fundamentally different nature to knowledge of other phenomena.
 
  • #287
3,762
2
Originally posted by akhenaten
That and the idea that awareness of our minds does not have a fundamentally different nature to knowledge of other phenomena.
I see. However, do you deny that the ability of Descartes to think about his existence, proves that there must be such a thing as Descartes?
 
  • #288
akhenaten
I think he can infer his own existence, but not experience it or deduce it directly.
 
  • #289
3,762
2
Originally posted by akhenaten
I think he can infer his own existence, but not experience it or deduce it directly.
Well, of course he can deduce it, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's true, merely that it's logical.

Here is the deduction of Descartes' existence:
Proposition 1: I am thinking (this cannot be disputed, because to try to get him to "believe" that he is, in fact, not thinking, is to cause him to think about not thinking).

Proposition 2: Only things that exist can think (this is also rather obvious, so I don't think it needs much more clarification - except to say that "things that exist" is a nasty little error in Aristotelian Logic, but appears every single time you refer to any entity).

Proposition 3 (conclusion): I exist.

That is deductive logic, and is thus unquestionably valid, but not necessarily true.
 
  • #290
73
0
Originally posted by Mentat

That is deductive logic, and is thus unquestionably valid, but not necessarily true.
Huh? Isn't it necessarily true?
 
  • #291
3,762
2
Originally posted by Dave
Huh? Isn't it necessarily true?
Well, Dave, it is logically valid because it has been concluded from logical deduction. I also believe that it is true (and rather obviously so), but "truth" cannot be ascertained by logic (no matter how valid).
 

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