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I think; therefore, I am

what does that mean to you?


Asked by shrinkydink68 at 10:56 PM on Jul. 17, 2008 in Religion & Beliefs

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Answers (6)
  • AMEN to anonymous! It's possible Best Answer should go to wikipedia! lol
    I used to think that it meant (IF) I think it; therefore, I am (as in imaging). I use the power of positive thinking a lot and growing up I thought that is what it meant. ex. If I think I'm happy then I shall be happy. Alas, education taught me what vbruno found online in some encyclopedia and that it simply means the energy of thinking creates "me" and I exist.

    Answer by admckenzie at 12:38 PM on Jul. 18, 2008

  • That the act of thinking guarantees the existence of the self is a fact that many philosophers take for granted. As Descartes famously put it “I think, therefore I am”, an assertion that has come to be known as the cogito. Certainly the cogito doesn’t seem like something that can be doubted, but if we are really to rely on it we should be certain that its truth can be divorced from Descartes’ philosophy. Here then I will attempt to reconstruct the cogito, as something that cannot be doubted, using a modern philosophical approach.

    Answer by vbruno at 1:45 AM on Jul. 18, 2008

  • To defend the cogito we must first reduce it a simpler form that is easier to defend, which is an assertion that we must accept that doubts exist, since to doubt that assertion would be to prove it to be correct. However, even this form of the cogito may be attacked by a kind of radical skepticism. It is possible that what seems like a doubt to us is in actuality not a doubt, but only the appearance of one, and thus it is possible that we might consistently have something that seemed to us like a doubt about the statement “doubts exist”, since no real doubting is going on

    Answer by vbruno at 1:46 AM on Jul. 18, 2008

  • To defeat this kind of radical skepticism we must define doubt in terms of presentations, and thus restate our initial claim as “there exist things that present themselves as doubts”. Of course the radical skeptic may now claim that we haven’t proved that real doubts exist, only things that seem like them. This might be a real problem if we believed that a conscious act was something that existed outside of consciousness and was made available to it. This is not, however, how we approach conscious acts, conscious acts simply are their appearances. Even if the conscious act itself is part of some larger unconscious activity, what defines the conscious act as a specific conscious act is how it presents itself to us, unconscious features are irrelevant. And so our rephrasing of the initial claim isn’t even a substantive change, simply a clarification.

    Answer by vbruno at 1:46 AM on Jul. 18, 2008

  • Knowing that doubt exists we can generalize and assert that conscious acts exist, since doubts are a kind of conscious act (although we haven’t proven that anything besides doubt must exist), yielding “there exist things that present themselves as conscious acts”. From here, if we are to reach Descartes’ conclusion, we must somehow show that the self exists, and not just the conscious acts. There are basically three ways of understanding the “I” in “I think, therefore I exist”, as the real self, as the self that is constituted by the act of thinking, and as the first person perspective.

    Answer by vbruno at 1:49 AM on Jul. 18, 2008

  • vbruno - please attribute the words to the site you pulled them from. Plagiarism is never acceptable.

    Answer by Anonymous at 2:00 AM on Jul. 18, 2008