Des Cartes Principle

ReneDescartes suffered from terribly vivid nightmares, and eventually began to doubt the reality of his world; at any given time, how could he know whether he was awake or asleep? And was there really any difference?. But he proposed that, despite the uncertainty of his surroundings, he could be certain of one thing at least - that he himself existed in some capacity. This is often transcribed as "I think, therefore I am."

Now, am I the only person in the world who rejects this? I have read criticisms of Descartes, but never have I ever met anyone who does not accept "I think" as proof of "I am". -- EmlynShannon

Does this mean that Einstein isn't? I haven't heard of any thoughts he has had recently (the past month or two). When one has a thought, and no-one knows it, is it still there? If someone else thinks I am, and I don't (I'm in a coma), does that mean I'm not? It seems to me thought and being can be independent. But I could be wrong. -- AnonymousOnPurpose

This is correct. First, human consciousness is not predicated on thought. Second, in formalist metaphysics existence and thought are completely independent things; thought being a property of some systems while existence being a metaproperty in all cases. Third, existence must necessarily be independent from thought since many things which do think do not exist; elves for example.

How can elves think if they don't exist? (Pity the poor elves... once the dominant race in Middle Earth, now eking out a living working for Keebler and Santa Claus...). If I am allowed to conjure up some non-existent entity and assign whatever properties to it I like, and get this entity included in the universe of discourse, I can (dis)prove anything I want.

Cogito ergo sum is not some deep epiphany. It's rampant idiocy. It's FALSE. It's completely wrong. Very much like a lot of other Zen BS. As for Descartes, he sucked as a philosopher.

Hey don't knock Zen, crazyman.


To say, 'I think' presumes that there is an 'I' who does the thinking. 'I think therefore I am' suffers from what I believe is called the AntecedentAssumedFallacy, and so can't prove anything.

[Indeed, but I'm not sure Descartes meant it as a logical deductive reasoning piece. I think he just meant it to be taken as "I just know I exist". If you rephrase it so that it's not BeggingTheQuestion, it becomes simply "I think". So how can he be sure that he thinks? Most people accept the logic of "I think" (and therefore I am) because they think that they can empirically "observe" it happening. But I don't accept that. Granted, not to accept that would be inconvenient in the extreme, but that presumably has little bearing on whether or not it's true].... who ever wrote this should be beaten by a stick.

Okay - I am not. Whose point is this? Let me guess - Thomas Edison, George Washington, Edgar Allen Poe?

I think that I do not exist alone because someone else is thinking for me GET OUT OF MY HEAD!!!

Oh, wait - I know the answer to this one! Third base!


I thought the Descartes principle was not to put Descartes before the horse? Perhaps that should be Deswheelbarrow.


See also LeibnizianDefinitionOfConsciousness
CategoryPhilosophy

EditText of this page (last edited May 27, 2013) or FindPage with title or text search