I think therfore I am | INFJ Forum

I think therfore I am

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by Barnabas, Apr 4, 2010.

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  1. Barnabas

    Barnabas Time Lord

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    Do you agree with Descartes' conclusion that "I think therfore I am"

    Do you know what he meant?

    What does it mean to you?
     
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  2. Faye

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    Descartes was referring to the universal I. You have to be careful. He is actually arguing for the existence of the soul. I find it circular and of little value, but for those who adhere to religion, it is a pretty significant line of thinking. It assumes that the I is self evident.

    However, I wont be reading him until next fall, so I can't say much more than that.
     
  3. NeverAmI

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    I was actually quite surprised when I found the full context of his statement because I have thought the same thing. It is based on the sense of doubting your own existence. However he developed a conclusion whereas I did not. Descartes formulated that doubt in itself equates to existence.

    Since we are able to doubt our existence through thought then that proves existence. Perhaps I am missing something here but I can doubt my existence in the state of a lucid dream which would also mean I exist in that state.

    I am much more inclined to believe I exist because I think but also because I have memory. Then again I suppose it is not very possible to think without memory.
     
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  4. enfp can be shy

    enfp can be shy people vs the bad people?
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    As I've mentioned before, I think Descartes should have stopped at the following statement: "Thinking." By the process of brain development through outside interaction, he develops the sense of "I", language, and everything else.

    His initial goal was to set the basis, the foundation of all thought, the atom, which can't be doubted; and then, to doubt everything else. But turned out even this basis was to be deconstructed.
     
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    #4 enfp can be shy, Apr 4, 2010
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2010
  5. NeverAmI

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    I have always thought how fascinating it would be to fully comprehend the mind that has never met external influence.
     
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  6. RedDeath9

    RedDeath9 Regular Poster

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    In the end, existence is such a... fragile, malleable thing. You can say "I think, therefore I am," but you only are to such an extent that... Well... I can't really explain it.

    If a man somehow spent his entire life in a dream, he could rationalize it the same way. If we were all just constructs of a virtual reality, we'd think the same things.

    What am I even trying to get at here?...

    I don't think there's any way we can actually PROVE that we exist. No statement could confirm it. No discovery. But I'm happy with whatever the hell we're doing right now, whether it's existing or dreaming or whatever.

    EDIT: I don't know much about the statement itself.
     
    #6 RedDeath9, Apr 4, 2010
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2010
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    Barnabas

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    I always found the notion of existing in a dream interesting. I find it hard to say that even if this life is a dream or the "Matrix" we still exist. That only chnges the location of our existnce.
     
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  8. NeverAmI

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    Yes, we have limited comprehension.
     
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  9. TinyBubbles

    TinyBubbles anarchist

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    reality is perception.
     
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  10. RedDeath9

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    :lol: The two above posts essentially summarized my thoughts.
     
  11. LadyINFJ

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    Yeah. But in my case "I feel, therefore I am" is the valid one.
     
  12. NeverAmI

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    That would fit well with Protagoras.

    "Man is the measure of all things."

    A Sophist from Greece and someone I dearly wish still had surviving works to learn from.
     
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  13. NeverAmI

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    In this, I often say what is existence without measurement?

    If you have no senses and no feelings then to what extent to you exist? How can you think if you don't have any measurements to put into the 'calculator?'

    I measure senses, feelings, urges. I use those in a scenario predictor that we call thought. I am able to use those measurements and my thought to predict an outcome, and hence form interactions and expectations.
     
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  14. TinyBubbles

    TinyBubbles anarchist

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    thanks for that, i hadn't heard of him before.

    and just something your post made me think of - why is it most of the philosophical discussions we have these days have their parallels (foundations?) in the ancient world, like ancient greece & india & china? were people more philosophical in those days? modern society seems, by contrast, a lot more materialistic & focused on short term consequences.
     
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  15. Jasmine85

    Jasmine85 Regular Poster

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    To understand Descartes' words here, we have to understand the person who spoke them. He was a mathematician -- the sort of person who has a very cold hearted sense of truth. The sort of person who needs a rigorous proof in order to accept anything as being true.

    In mathematics up to that time, things like 1+1=2 are assumed without proof, but to a formalist, this is totally unacceptable. If it is not proven, you don't know it is true. So everything derivative of such statements is also thrown into equal uncertainty.

    I believe Descartes discovered he could doubt things in his work, and discovered that not everything had rigorous foundations.

    I believe that he came to doubt everything empirical. He can doubt everything his senses told him -- something as psychological as it was philosophical. That he can doubt almost everything in reality as it was without rigorous proof. I believe he was searching for what was truely at the beginning, like the root of the tree of knowledge, from which everything grew. What could be accepted without proof? Was there anything? What is the foundation that everything else must be built upon?

    After painfully eroding away everything in his world away with skepticism, he realised he could not doubt his own being, as he is the doubter. To doubt his own being would contradict what he was doing.

    But "being" is something less than human -- reducing it down to the minimum required: Nothing more than a thought holder, holding a thought. And by holding that thought, he then knew that a thought holder exists, and that was what he was. I think, therefore I am a thought holder.

    So he identified himself as a thinking machine at the core.

    I'm not sure how he tied his belief in god into that. Many philosophers frown at that part and wonder why Descartes couldn't doubt god when he could doubt everything else so easily. It's a curious footnote.
     
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    #15 Jasmine85, Apr 4, 2010
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2010
  16. enfp can be shy

    enfp can be shy people vs the bad people?
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    Oh, that is not at all surprising, if one analyzes how the brain learns to behave critically, and to seek the anthropomorphic superstitions everywhere. It's essentially the same process. Just like Einstein thought of the universe almost as a "being", a "mind", whose "thoughts" are to be deciphered. Unfortunately, such people are still considered icons of human thought, and not evaluated more fairly.
     
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  17. TinyBubbles

    TinyBubbles anarchist

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    ooh great question. i read a book once which talked about the lives of deaf-blind people. one deafblind man in his early 40's was asked what he thought about suicide, because the interviewer thought it was something he must have contemplated given his circumstances. the deafblind man replied (quite sadly, i thought) that in many ways he felt disconnected from other people and so alone in his own world that it was like he was already dead. so there'd be no point to commit suicide.

    also, one of my INTJ friends actually described a method of torture that he had in mind (and intjs seem to be scarily good at stuff like this!) should a murderer kill any of his family. it involved keeping the person locked away in a dark room forever and removing each one of his senses. he'd be alive, but not sensing anything. if existence is only through ones senses, then a total shut down of those senses should equate to a practical death. this might be what happens to brain dead patients being kept alive by life support. since their minds have shut down, you could say they effectively don't exist anymore, though their body is obviously still present.
    i guess if you believe in souls though it would be a different story. if your existence is not solely defined by the existence of a working physical body and sensory input system, then maybe even without all these things - maybe before the universe itself existed, you existed, because your soul was still there.

    oh my.. i've gone off on a tangent, i'm so sorry :(
     
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  18. NeverAmI

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    Excellent explanation!

    The analysis of Descartes was completely deductive logic (as is mathematics) and I don't know if he ever attempted to bridge his religion with his deductive analysis.

    The conclusion that we exist, based on the premise that we think about our existence, necessarily follows.

    I think about my existence, therefore I must exist.
     
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  19. OP
    Barnabas

    Barnabas Time Lord

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    didn't it work out like this.

    I doubt my existence, therfore I exist
     
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  20. IndigoSensor

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    the idea that having higher thought is directly related to your own personal exsistence, and that you are you and you are real.

    Yup I agree with this.
     
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