Skip to comments."I think, therefore I exist" -- Rene Descartes
Posted on 11/04/2002 7:52:21 AM PST by thinktwice
Descartes was a geometrician. He found only in mathematics and geometry the certainty that he required. Therefore, he used the methods of geometry to think about the world. Now, in geometry, one begins with a search for axioms, simple undeniable truths for example, the axiom that a straight line is the shortest distance between two points. On the foundations of such self-evident propositions, whole geometrical systems can be built.
Following his geometrical model, Descartes proceeds to doubt everything de onmibus dubitandum. He will suspend belief in the knowledge he learned from childhood, all those things which I allowed myself in youth to be persuaded without having inquired into their truth. Doubt will be his method, a deliberate strategy for proceeding toward certainty. (Descartes is a doubter not by nature, but by necessity. What he really wants is secure understanding so he can stop doubting.)
Descartes finds that he has no trouble doubting the existence of real objects/events our senses too easily deceive us. And we can doubt the existence of a supernatural realm of reality figments and fantasies are too often conjured by our native imaginations. But now his geometrical model pays off: in trying to doubt everything, he discovers something that he cant doubt. What he cant doubt is that he is doubting. Obviously, I exist if I doubt that I exist. My doubt that I exist proves that I exist, for I have to exist to be able to doubt. Therefore I cant doubt that I exist. Hence, there is at least one fact in the universe that is beyond doubt. I am, I exist is necessarily true each time that I pronounce it, or that I mentally conceive it.
Descartes thus becomes the author of the most famous phrase in Western philosophy: Cognito ergo sum, or, in his original French, Je pense, donc je suis. I think, therefore I exist. With roots in St. Augustine, this is certainly one of the catchiest ideas yet created by the human mind.
Posted for reference and discussion.
Cognito ergo sumClose. It's Cogito ergo sum.
My doubt that I exist proves that I exist, for I have to exist to be able to doubt.So you exist as a thing-which-doubts (i.e. you exist in what sense?). All the rest is tenuous supposition.
Descartes admitted the idea of infinity as real. Hobbes wouldn't. In the Meditations, Descartes has reasons: his own finitude implied divine infinity.
In the spirit of doubting or analyzing I contend that it would be better to say: "I am aware, therefore I exist". Thought/intelligence could originate from our Source and just be manifested through us. I like: "God thinks, therefore we exist".
As indicated in my post #12, we are in agreement.
Why would an all-knowing God send us out ... so poorly equipped?
And the most disastrous. Of course, his axiom assumes the truthfulness of its terms. It is impossible to doubt the terms with which one thinks. Therefore truth (which exists) precedes reasoning or thought.
Descartes finds that he has no trouble doubting the existence of real objects/events our senses too easily deceive us.
Also false. Our senses do not deceive although they can deteriorate. For example, I can look at a fake apple and think it real until I pick it up or feel or taste it. The sense that perceives and makes sense out of the input of the five senses is called in Thomism the "common sense."
The common sense has the following functions:(Regarding these functions, see Aristotle, De anima, III, 2 (426b8-427a15); De somno 2 (455a5). cf: St. Thomas, In de anima III, lect.3, nr. 599 ff.)
1. To know all the sensations of the external senses which are known separately by the external senses.
2. To compare and distinguish these qualities, e.g., color and taste.
3. To be aware of the operations of the external senses.
4. To distinguish the real objects from the images of the fantasy, e.g., to know whether we are dreaming, and to realize that our dreams are not reality.
Obviously, I exist if I doubt that I exist. My doubt that I exist proves that I exist, for I have to exist to be able to doubt. Therefore I cant doubt that I exist. Hence, there is at least one fact in the universe that is beyond doubt. I am, I exist is necessarily true each time that I pronounce it, or that I mentally conceive it.Cogito ergo sum was Descartes' first axiom, and solved the problem of absolute skepticism and prove the existence of a physical world. To solve the problem of solipsism, he repeated Anselm's ontological argument for the existence of God (which was later refuted by Kant).
If providing a foundation for science was the intellectual context of Descartes' "Meditations," why did he spend so much time discussing God? The intellectual context of the "Meditations" was that the Aristotelian world view was being challenged by the scientict revolution sweeping Europe that began with Copernicus' "De Revolutionibus." Descartes hoped to provide a foundation for science, with the implicit goal of harmonizing science and religion and convincing the leaders of his day that they could believe in a new world view while maintaining their traditional theology.
For the same reason God made the world flat. In other words, God did not send us out ... so poorly equipped; we are just unaware of God's reality. We are living in our "flat world"/flawed existence because of our limited perception and our acceptance of a mythical existence separated from an all-knowing, perfect God.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.