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I think therefore I am.

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I think therefore I am.

Postby Apotheosis » Sat Mar 06, 2004 12:50 am

Hello everyone! I am new to these forums, and this is my very first thread! It is very nice to be here. Anyway, I created this thread to address a certain topic. I would like to discuss the topic of existence and the quote that is the title of this thread. René Descartes said the following: I think therefore I am. How many of you people agree with this statement? I, for one, think this statement is true. What are your opinions? What do you think? Do we really exist because we can think? Is this proof that we exist? Post your thoughts and ideas here! I am curious to hear what everyone has to say about this. Thanks!
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Postby Emma_85 » Sat Mar 06, 2004 3:31 pm

I think that Descartes certainly proved that something exists, the problem with this sentence is 'I'. It should be something like: something thinks and so something must exist (but it's not the I that exists, it's the thoughts that exist!).
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Postby threewood14 » Sat Mar 06, 2004 8:45 pm

I know whta you are thinking... But I sort of agree with this statement. If we did not think, then we cannot exist. His statement can be turned into a math problem in one case.

I think therefore I am.
It thinks therefore it is.
It is therefore it thinks.
It is not therefore it doesn't think.

This can further emphasize his claim. There is one theory called the Anthoropic Theory that basically says that the universe is the way it is because if it were any other way, we would not exist. Pretty interesting i think...
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Postby Kalailan » Sat Mar 06, 2004 9:45 pm

According to what threewood says in the 'proof that we know almost nothing' thread, it could be that we don't exist. he says that all information we percieve might be false - therefore even this can be false.

my opinion? i agree with Emma.
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Postby threewood14 » Sat Mar 06, 2004 9:57 pm

There is one theory that states that we are all just holograms. I think it is the brane theory. It also says that there are many branes and can be only a photon away from us...
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Postby Apotheosis » Sun Mar 07, 2004 2:47 am

I agree with the statement. Thinking seems to be the only thing that is proof that we are actually here. The fact that we can question our existence is proof that we do exist. Let me reiterate: If we truly did not exist, then we would not be able to question our existence. Therefore, thinking allows us to exist.
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Postby Kalailan » Sun Mar 07, 2004 11:17 am

there is something that must be added: thinking doesn't mean we are alive.
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Postby Apotheosis » Sun Mar 07, 2004 12:59 pm

I agree Kalailan.
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Postby Kalailan » Sun Mar 07, 2004 3:41 pm

Nothing to say, just happy that the academy is so active. i don't record seeing so many posts in such a short time.
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Postby threewood14 » Sun Mar 07, 2004 5:00 pm

But what about a rock. It does not think. (At least we believe that it doesn't). But it does exist. We believe this because we have observed it. I guess we have to understand what exist and think means in the first place.

By definition, exist means, "To have actual being; be real." That does not mean that it is living. A mountain can be tall hence it exists.

By definition, think means, "To have or formulate in the mind." I believe, and I'm sure that many other would, that rocks do not have minds. Thefore they cannot formulate ideas or in other words, think. So the statement, "I think therefore I am," is incorrect. This is because the statement can be thought as, "I am therefore I think." The therefore is an equal sign. So logically, you can create a mirror image.
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Re: I think therefore I am.

Postby xn » Sun Mar 07, 2004 9:34 pm

Apotheosis: When Descartes wrote “cogito ergo sum”, I didn’t exist (at least in any recognizable physical form — the jury’s still out on whether I might have existed in some aphysical form :?:), so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt regarding his own existence at that time. :wink:

Emma_85: Was Discours de la Méthode insufficient proof of Descartes’ own existence? (Why is his use of the first person a problem for you?)

threewood14: Your conversion of Descartes’ postulate to a series of logic statements is partially flawed, because “therefore” isn’t symmetric. That is, if “it thinks” is A, and “it is” is B, then the truth of “A, therefore B” only implies the truth of “not B, therefore not A” — it doesn’t imply the truth of “B, therefore A”. It doesn’t exclude the possibility of the latter statement’s truth, but it doesn’t guarantee it, either.

Kalailan: If none of us ever existed/exists/will exist, then would it be of any consequence that non-existent-Descartes had been wrong?

Apotheosis: Thinking might reveal our existence, but air, water, food, &c. allows our existence.

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Postby Apotheosis » Sun Mar 07, 2004 9:49 pm

I see your points xn, and I agree. I think that Descartes was on the right track with his statement, but he was not 100% correct. Perhaps proof for our existence is the fact that we can affect reality via our actions. Or better yet, proof that we exist is simply because if nothing existed then I could not be writing this. What do you think?
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Postby chad » Mon Mar 08, 2004 12:54 am

hi, people often criticise descartes' cogito ergo sum, unfairly. the actual statement "i think therefore i am" isn't that important in his philosophy.

the point is that, since one can doubt everything, except that one is doubting, and since this seems, to put it as simply as possible, to be right because it's such a clear and distinct thought--i.e. not fuzzy or mixed up with other ideas or implications to realise it's right--then "clarity and distinctness" is a good standard of truth--at least, as good as any.

so if you're gonna do science/philosophy, at least aim for clear and distinct propositions.

the cogito ergo sum bit is just a way to get to this standard--most people read the first few pages of the meditations or the discourse and think the point is just to prove his existence... but descartes was far smarter than that.

if you read his earlier work regulae ad directionem ingenii, you'll see he's trying to come up with the best way to think/do science. he basically says that if you can get your propositions so "close together" that there can't be any false reasoning between them, then you're reasoning as well as possible. the "clear and distinct" standard for reasoning is his later explanation of this.

later philosophers, particularly the german geniuses, pushed this even further... not to try to cause confusion, but to figure out the best standard for scientific/metaphysical thinking, and figure out when it applies and when it fails. e.g. kant argued that, to put it simply, the conditions or structure of the way we experience form a good standard of truth for a small batch of non-logical propositions, e.g. all events have causes. hegel argued that "speculative" propositions are based on a good standard... lots of philosophers around this time (often doubling as scientists: e.g. leibniz with e.g. mechanics, spinoza with optics) were also involved in the same problem, of figuring out a good standard for thinking and scientific development. they weren't just trying to prove useless propositions, e.g. that they existed.

descartes' statement cogito ergo sum is just a tiny piece of this long history... the 3 words themselves aren't that important.

cheers, chad. :)
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Postby threewood14 » Mon Mar 08, 2004 7:53 pm

But why would it matter if you existed in the first place. I think that it would be more important to prove your existance to others. In other words, I may be able to prove to my self that I exist, but I may not be able to prove my existance to one other. If this is the case, then my existance would not matter at all! To prove my existance to one other, I would have to change something in the universe. Otherwise, how could one detect me etc...Its almost like I would be dark matter which is very hard to detect.
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Postby Emma_85 » Mon Mar 08, 2004 9:26 pm

descartes' statement cogito ergo sum is just a tiny piece of this long history... the 3 words themselves aren't that important.


It's true that it these words aren't all of Descartes philosophy, what was important to him was to find a firm base, something on which you can rely on being true, because he reasoned without a firm base all reasoning is useless and anything that ignores this 'basic' assumption is not worth thinking on. Descartes also believe in intentionality, that all thoughts have object (but I can also be the object of thought) – another thing that modern philosophy shows us isn’t quite true.

Emma_85: Was Discours de la Méthode insufficient proof of Descartes’ own existence? (Why is his use of the first person a problem for you?)


We can't be sure that what is around us is real if we go about it as Descartes did 'de omnibus dubitandum', what we can be sure of is that these thoughts or impressions we have are real, not the objects are real, we can't prove that, but these impressions of them that we have in our brains are real. The table in front of you for example probably exists, but you can't prove it, you can't even tell me exactly what the table is, all you know of it is that at the moment in this light and with combined with your personal experiences what your impression of it is. The table is three dimensional in your mind, because your brain leaves you no option, it only lets you experience things three dimensionally, but that is no proof that the table really is three dimensional. But you can say that your impression of it is three dimensional, so it’s the impression you can say something about with certainty.
We now know that the thoughts exist, but why should be now say that an I too exists? Our impression we have of ourselves... I suppose you could say that exists, what ever that might be, but we can’t say that a consistent I exists. The I was one of the main things in western philosophy, but it’s just not something that exists.
Nietzsche wrote this about Descartes philosophy:
“Wenn ich den Vorgang zerlege, der in dem Satz „ich denke“ ausgedrückt ist, so bekomme ich eine Reihe von verwegenen Behauptungen, deren Begründung schwer, vielleicht unmöglich ist, - zum Beispiel, dass ich es bin, der denkt, dass überhaupt ein Etwas es sein muss, das denkt, dass Denken eine Thätigkeit und eine Wirkung seitens eines Wesens ist, welches als Ursache gedacht wird, dass es ein „Ich“ giebt, endlich, dass es bereits fest steht, was mit Denken zu bezeichnen ist, - dass ich weiss, was Denken ist.“
urgh... ok, my a bit shortened translation:
“When I take apart the sentence ‘I think’ I can find quite a few claims, that are hard to prove if not impossible – for example, that it’s me, who thinks, that there even has to be something that thinks it, that thinking is an action and an effect of a being, which you think of as the cause, that an ‘I’ exist, in the end, that it’s already certain what to call thought – that I know what thought is.”
He goes on to say that your perception of yourselves as an I is also a bit flawed. You should read up some Freud, he goes into great detail to prove that ‘I’ is made up of loads of different parts, and he tries to explain why we still think of ourselves as one being.
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Postby Apotheosis » Mon Mar 08, 2004 11:52 pm

Would you agree that there is an "I" in the mind of every single person on this planet? Perhaps our existence can only be proven via the thoughts of others? Consider the following: If there is only one person in a universe of nothing, that person has no one else to interact with. He cannot converse or exchange thoughts with anyone else. He cannot distinguish himself from the nothingness that he is in. However, if another person is added, he can then distinguish himself and prove that he is not nothing, for there is an image of himself in the other persons mind, and an image of the other person in his mind. He can interact and compare himself with that other person, giving him identity. What do you think?
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Postby threewood14 » Tue Mar 09, 2004 12:12 am

The table in front of you for example probably exists, but you can't prove it, you can't even tell me exactly what the table is, all you know of it is that at the moment in this light and with combined with your personal experiences what your impression of it is.


Exactly...Which was my basic point in my thread.
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Postby Kasper » Tue Mar 09, 2004 1:56 am

Of course cogito ergo sum is perfectly right from a rationalist perspective. Rationally speaking this is the only thing one can be sure of. All other perceptions may be passive or even active delusions from the 'great wizard' or perhaps everyone's on lsd.
but to bring Schopenhauer into it, would i think if i didn't want to? i wish to think therefore i think. than where does this wish come from? I don't have the time to write a long post here, but in the end i agree with Nietzsche's: vivo ergo puto (the birth of tragedy)
“Cum ego verbo utar,” Humpty Dumpty dixit voce contempta, “indicat illud quod optem – nec plus nec minus.”
“Est tamen rogatio” dixit Alice, “an efficere verba tot res indicare possis.”
“Rogatio est, “Humpty Dumpty responsit, “quae fiat magister – id cunctum est.”
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Postby chad » Tue Mar 09, 2004 3:28 am

hi kasper, how is it in melbourne? it's 33 degrees here in syd, roasting...

nietzsche was well read in the greeks and also in descartes, so he knew he was pushing a bit further with that vivo ergo puto quote u mentioned...

in descartes' quote, the inference of "sum" from "cogito" is "clear and distinct" because thinking is an accident of substance (the thing which thinks), so the accident implies the substance. it has nothing to do with psychology or the ego...

but in nietzsche's quote, the inference of "puto" from "vivo" is the reverse: the inference of accident from substance, which as aristotle notes in book 1 and ff of the topica is only true from time to time, if at all.

it's not clear and distinct like descartes' quote: it would require a dialectical enthymeme to get people to believe it.

it's easy to believe statements like nietzsche's though, because the differentia of man is rationality (in classical philosophy), which can be attributed to thinking things, but the accident of thinking or believing can only be attributed to the same subject contingently, or from time to time... aristotle uses the example of someone sitting, which might also be true at one time (but as an accident only).

cheers, chad. :)
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Postby Kasper » Tue Mar 09, 2004 4:21 am

mmm... not too sure about that chad. (18 degrees and raining! yay!)

I think that what nietzsche was saying (or at least trying to say) was that there is so much more to being alive than just thinking, which, at least to a large degree, is mainly limited to humans, sort of - vivo ergo sum, oh, et inter ceteris quoque puto.

Again, this may seem rationally inexplicable, but in the birth of tragedy nietzsche largely debates the importance that the greeks placed on other parts of being alive. he mainly debates the utter irrationality of Dionysius. the greeks are not just aristotle and plato, but the madness of the bacchae and perhaps Pan and others. in fact he nietzsche holds socrates responsible for rationalizing the world and thereby creating the mess we live in! if only we weren't so damn rational. i think rousseau made some good points in this direction as well. it's rationalism that makes great intellectuals spend their days debating whether that what we all experience is philosophically 'real' and whether or not we can prove it.
“Cum ego verbo utar,” Humpty Dumpty dixit voce contempta, “indicat illud quod optem – nec plus nec minus.”
“Est tamen rogatio” dixit Alice, “an efficere verba tot res indicare possis.”
“Rogatio est, “Humpty Dumpty responsit, “quae fiat magister – id cunctum est.”
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Postby chad » Tue Mar 09, 2004 5:40 am

hi kasper, you're right about nietzsche's point, but i don't think that affects descartes' argument...

if descartes was saying that "to think" is a/the basis of the existence of the thing which thinks, then freud's and nietzsche's arguments about the complexity of the mind/ego would be relevant.

but descartes isn't saying that. he's saying that if it's apparent that there is an accident (e.g. thinking) then it's clearly and distinctly apparent that the accident is an accident of something (e.g. mind).

these are 2 different issues. the first treats thinking as an [face=SPIonic]ai1tion[/face] or "aristotelian cause" of the mind. the 2nd treats thinking as a [face=SPIonic]sumbebhko/j[/face] or "accident" from which something can be inferred clearly and distinctly (i.e. the thinking thing).

nietzsche's point about the irrationality of man/living beings you mention goes rather to arguments in classical philosophy that rationality is a property, [face=SPIonic]i1dion[/face], of man (probably inferred from rationality as the differentiating quality of man from other animals). properties, aristotelian causes and accidents are all different things, and need different arguments/proofs to support their attribution to a subject.

nietzsche's and freud's texts might be said to show irrationality as another/contrary/mutual property of man/living beings... but this doesn't bear on descartes' argument about the clear and distinct inference of substance from accident. it's a different issue.

so once again, i don't think descartes wasn't trying to vainly prove his existence, using thought as the basis of the proof. and i don't think that modern psychological understanding of the ego somehow waters down the legitimacy of his argument. :)

cheers, chad. :)
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Postby Kasper » Tue Mar 09, 2004 5:53 am

Hi Chad,
i've just looked it up at the only resource available to me at the moment (i'm at work) which is history of western philosophy and no book specifically on descartes or nietzsche, and i must admit you seem to be right. in no sense does he seem to deny irrationality, he just finds some steady ground in the fact that he thinks, from which he then expands (it seems somewhat shaky) his awareness of being.

however after confirming that the only thing he can be sure of is that he thinks, the rest of his argument falls apart quite easily. he cannot prove anything but the fact that he thinks. Therefore the starting point seems an ending as well.

but i will leave it at this because to say more without actually having read descartes would be foolish (more so than what i've said already)
“Cum ego verbo utar,” Humpty Dumpty dixit voce contempta, “indicat illud quod optem – nec plus nec minus.”
“Est tamen rogatio” dixit Alice, “an efficere verba tot res indicare possis.”
“Rogatio est, “Humpty Dumpty responsit, “quae fiat magister – id cunctum est.”
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Postby chad » Tue Mar 09, 2004 6:17 am

hi kasper, you're right, leading up to cogito ergo sum, descartes has managed to doubt everything, so at first it seems suspicious that he can build up a science again over the next few chapters.

but if you think of the cogito ergo sum bit as a turning point:

up to then, he finds he can deny all propositions on the ground of doubtability,

at that point, he finds that one proposition (cogito ergo sum) undoubtable (because one can't doubt that one's doubting),

then still at that point he reflects on why it's undoubtable, and his gut tells him it's because the proposition is clear and distinct (based on the connection of the ideas underneath the statement)

then he uses this "clear and distinct" criterion to re-build his science. anything which meets that criterion is a good statement, well, as good as is possible. the bit about doubt, existing and thinking isn't relevant here at all.

it's quite simple. the problem was figuring out a standard for new scientific propositions, when you don't have pure logic to help you. "clear and distinct" is one standard.

the cogito ergo sum bit is too catchy a slogan... some people run with it and miss his major point. he once told a queen by letter that he performed his "doubting method" for max a few hours a year... it's just a fancy intro in my opinion :)

if you feel like reading descartes, i'd recommend that you read the regulae ad directionem ingenii first (he wrote it in latin). cheers, chad. :)
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Postby threewood14 » Wed Mar 10, 2004 1:40 am

Do not argue with an idiot. He will drive you into a pointless and illogical conversation and beat you with experience...
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Postby Apotheosis » Wed Mar 10, 2004 8:59 pm

Would you agree that there is an "I" in the mind of every single person on this planet? Perhaps our existence can only be proven via the thoughts of others? Consider the following: If there is only one person in a universe of nothing, that person has no one else to interact with. He cannot converse or exchange thoughts with anyone else. He cannot distinguish himself from the nothingness that he is in. However, if another person is added, he can then distinguish himself and prove that he is not nothing, for there is an image of himself in the other persons mind, and an image of the other person in his mind. He can interact and compare himself with that other person, giving him identity. What do you think?
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Postby threewood14 » Wed Mar 10, 2004 10:49 pm

Last post made by threewood14
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Postby Apotheosis » Sun Mar 14, 2004 9:49 pm

What is that supposed to mean?
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Postby threewood14 » Sun Mar 14, 2004 10:27 pm

What do you think. Hopefuly, you do not misunderstand it lol.
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Postby Raya » Mon Mar 15, 2004 7:11 pm

threewood14 wrote:Last post made by threewood14

I, too, would rather like to know why you keep posting this in Academy threads.
If it doesn't relate to the discussion, kindly leave it out.
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Postby Saiph » Wed Mar 17, 2004 11:00 pm

Joining topic late. Please forgive.


Reason begets irrationalism.

Someone is thinking, therefore the noetic process of this self-awareness, called I, is objectively projecting ontological presence into a 3 dimensional world.

Which I seem to perceive empirically.
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Postby threewood14 » Wed Mar 17, 2004 11:45 pm

I believe that viewing things through 2 d is easier than 3 d for the matter...
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Postby Jung He Fah Toy » Thu Mar 18, 2004 8:01 pm

If I change the universe, is that prove that I exist. For example, if I push a shopping cart and it bumps into a railing. If someone is there to see the shopping cart crash and die they may think what caused the crash. Something must have exerted a force on the shopping cart. They would not know where the force came from, but they knew that something existed to push it.

However I agree with "I think therefore I am." But I d not think it is the only way to prove something's existence.
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Postby Saiph » Thu Mar 18, 2004 8:29 pm

However I agree with "I think therefore I am." But I d not think it is the only way to prove something's existence.


In another thread you agreed with the concept that we cannot know anything, so what gives ? ? ? Why do you equivocate ? ?
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Postby Jung He Fah Toy » Thu Mar 18, 2004 8:34 pm

I did not say that this is what threewood calls reality. This is what I believe to be reality. What I mean is that Apotheosis convinced me and showed me enough evidence to convinve me that this is true. Just because I think it is true does not mean that I know with absolute certainty that it is true. It only means that I believe his statement is most probable.
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Postby Saiph » Thu Mar 18, 2004 8:55 pm

All knowledge is justified belief.
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Postby Jung He Fah Toy » Thu Mar 18, 2004 9:07 pm

Prehaps knowledge is the incrrect word. As threewood put it, absolute certainty that ones beliefs are reality or the position of the energy in the universe.
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Postby threewood14 » Fri Mar 19, 2004 7:54 pm

lol thanks man
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Postby denatura44 » Thu Mar 25, 2004 1:45 am

Joining discussion very much on the late side. Thousands of apoogies.

I merely have a question to pose to everyone (which is almost everyone I've met in this forum and in most forums of "educated people"). My question is simple. We were given by whatever created us (be it random or Divinely planned), two ways to know, senses and reason. Yet EVERYONE denies the existence of the senses as a way to learn. I am not an empiricist, but I do believe that the fact that we see, touch, hear, taste, and smell makes our existence self-evident. Call me old-fashioned and Aristotelian but there is in reality no reason to deny it. One coutner-example I am frequently faced with is that our senses can "deceive" us. For example, in shadow, a gray cat might look black. However, our senses did not fault, merely our reasonable putting together of our sense images as taken in in this example through our eyes. Because we translate the cat as being black in shadow merely means we haven't learned to understand that true color is shown in full light. OUr senses erred not in telling us that the cat seemed black. From this is where I believe true philosophy starts and people stop quibbling over whether or not things exist. What think thee?? :?:
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Postby Kasper » Thu Mar 25, 2004 2:33 am

Denatura - the whole thing about the argument of cogito ergo sum is that it is philosophically impossible to prove you even have senses, let alone that what your senses tell you is the truth and not some illusion. I fully agree that although it may be philosophically impossible it is a silly waste of time and intellect to deny our senses and that what we perceive, but well, if hapiness is the greatest good then let them do it if it makes them happy!
As for your example of the grey cat in the shade, it seems a poor example (no offence intended) of your point. Your senses have in no sense erred, senses merely reflect what they, or as in this case your eyes, see. The cat looked black. It is the following failure to draw the conclusion that the cat is not actually black, but this is a comprehension issue and has nothing to do with what your senses tell you.
Apart from that, are you seriously suggesting that if you went blind, deaf, became fully paralised with no feeling left and lost your sense of smell (a bad car crash or a fire could do it) you would no longer exist? surely this is not what you mean.
“Cum ego verbo utar,” Humpty Dumpty dixit voce contempta, “indicat illud quod optem – nec plus nec minus.”
“Est tamen rogatio” dixit Alice, “an efficere verba tot res indicare possis.”
“Rogatio est, “Humpty Dumpty responsit, “quae fiat magister – id cunctum est.”
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Postby threewood14 » Wed Apr 21, 2004 11:06 pm

I'm also sure it is not
phpbb
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