I think, therefore i am

  1. Philosophy Forum
  2. » Epistemology
  3. » I think, therefore i am

Get Email Updates Email this Topic Print this Page

Reply Sun 18 Oct, 2009 09:25 pm
It is true that i think. Can i say that it is true that anyone alse thinks? Or am i stuck at that i cannot even say for sure that anyone alse exists? If so then what is true must be completely subjective. So can there be truth beyond my mind?
 
Emil
 
Reply Sun 18 Oct, 2009 10:05 pm
@D bowden,
This is not philosophy of mind, it is epistemology.

You may want to read up on:
- The problem of other minds
- Foundationalistand coherentistapproaches to justification (especially the first since that's where Descartesbelongs)
\
 
jgweed
 
Reply Mon 19 Oct, 2009 05:56 am
@D bowden,
It seems you are actually asking two related, but different questions:
1. The existence of Others, and whether they have minds like my own
2. The existence of something like "objective" truth, e.g., that is not solely dependent upon my thinking it.

Historically, these questions fall under the branch of philosophy known as epistemology, the study of what one can know and how one knows it, so I will move this thread to that section.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 19 Oct, 2009 06:59 am
@D bowden,
D_bowden;98424 wrote:
It is true that i think. Can i say that it is true that anyone alse thinks? Or am i stuck at that i cannot even say for sure that anyone alse exists? If so then what is true must be completely subjective. So can there be truth beyond my mind?


By his famous Cogito, Descartes tried to prove not merely that he exists, but that he knows for certain that he exists. And, just as importantly, he was trying to prove that there is at least one thing he knows for certain (that he exists) so that on that certainty, he could build his "edifice of knowledge". His Cogito does, as you see, raise the question of whether he can know for certain that anyone else exists. And for Descartes, this is the question of whether he can know for certain that anyone else has a mind (except, of course, for himself). This issue is called, "the problem of other minds". Are there minds other than our own. So, this leads to the question, of how we now know, or at least believe that we know that others have minds, and then ask the question whether how we know that others have minds meets the standard of knowledge Descartes sets. And that standard seems to be whether we know that others have minds as well as we, ourselves, know that we have minds. And the answer to that, seems to be no, that we do not know others have minds as well as we ourselves know that we have minds. But, does that mean that we don't know others have minds just because we don't know they do in the way we know about our own minds?

One other thing: suppose we cannot prove that others have minds, what does that imply? I don't think that means that truth is subjective (as you suggest) but only that we cannot prove what is true beyond what we know about our own minds. So, in that sense, we might say that our knowledge of the truth is subjective, but not that truth is subjective. For there can be truths we do not know. And one of them may be that other people do have minds.
 
BrightNoon
 
Reply Mon 19 Oct, 2009 06:31 pm
@kennethamy,
'I think, therefore I am' is true only because in language every action requires an agent. If we accept the premise 'I think' then by implication we accept the existence of an agent which is doing the thinking, 'I.' The real question, which Descartes did not answer, is what is the nature of this 'I?'
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 19 Oct, 2009 06:35 pm
@BrightNoon,
BrightNoon;98641 wrote:
'I think, therefore I am' is true only because in language every action requires an agent. If we accept the premise 'I think' then by implication we accept the existence of an agent which is doing the thinking, 'I.' The real question, which Descartes did not answer, is what is the nature of this 'I?'


I don't know whether that is the real question, but Descartes held that the I was a mind or soul, and not a body. So he certainly did answer that question. In fact, Descartes presented an argument for the conclusion that the I was identical with the mind or the soul, but not the body. His argument was:

1. I can doubt I have a body.
2. But I cannot doubt I have a mind.
Therefore, 3. I am a mind (and not a body).
 
BrightNoon
 
Reply Mon 19 Oct, 2009 07:16 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;98644 wrote:
I don't know whether that is the real question, but Descartes held that the I was a mind or soul, and not a body. So he certainly did answer that question. In fact, Descartes presented an argument for the conclusion that the I was identical with the mind or the soul, but not the body. His argument was:

1. I can doubt I have a body.
2. But I cannot doubt I have a mind.
Therefore, 3. I am a mind (and not a body).


I take it back. He did answer that question. I meant rather that, while he proved definitively that I exist because I think, he did not prove, to my satisfaction anyway, that this I exists as he thinks it does, i.e. as a 'thinking thing.' It seems to me, like I said before, that he proved little more in efffect than that language requires us to ascribe agent to actions.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 19 Oct, 2009 07:24 pm
@BrightNoon,
BrightNoon;98655 wrote:
I take it back. He did answer that question. I meant rather that, while he proved definitively that I exist because I think, he did not prove, to my satisfaction anyway, that this I exists as he thinks it does, i.e. as a 'thinking thing.' It seems to me, like I said before, that he proved little more in efffect than that language requires us to ascribe agent to actions.


Well, it seems to me that if there is thinking going on, then there must be something that is doing the thinking; just as if there is walking going on, there must be something that is doing the walking. You don't think that there can be walking without a walker, do you? Then why would you believe there can be thinking without a thinker? Of course, just what that thinker (or walker) is, may be disputable.
 
vajrasattva
 
Reply Tue 27 Oct, 2009 04:48 pm
@D bowden,
It seems to me that the question epistemologicaly speaking is weather or not we can know anything within the realm of mind. "I think therefore i am" (Rene Descartes) was his conclusion as to knowledge of his existence and it implys that the world can only be known in the realm of thought. This was a question posed and answered by Imanuel Kant in the critique of pure reason. He felt that true knowledge was impossible due to the subjectivity of the individual mind. I do not know weather I agree or disagree with this idea. I fee that the human mind can trancend subjectivity and move into the realm of true objectivity. This is perception uncolored by thought. But the next problem is perception. The question here is wether or not perception is accurate enough to give true knowledge. I fee that the only way to truely know an object is to be the object. It seems to me that all knowledge is implyed knowledge. Neiztsche pose that understanding and as such knowledge was flawed due to the gaps and problems of language. If feel that this is also true. A word is only good in so far as two people understand what the word means. Unfortuneately two people (regardless of there common understanding of the term) may and often do carry very different understandings of the same word. For instance



CHAIR!!! What is your mental image???










My initial mental image of a chair is the folding metal chair found in assembly halls. What was the first image in your mind maybe leather or lazyboy. Case in point.

So the first order of business is to define what knowledge is.
Second by what means it is (hypotheticaly) attained.
and thirdly to test weather or not the definition and means are plauseable.

Thanks Vajrasattva
 
Jackofalltrades phil
 
Reply Wed 28 Oct, 2009 06:59 am
@vajrasattva,
D_bowden;98424 wrote:
It is true that i think. Can i say that it is true that anyone alse thinks? Or am i stuck at that i cannot even say for sure that anyone alse exists? If so then what is true must be completely subjective. So can there be truth beyond my mind?


bowden....... thanks for threading in!

can there be truth beyond my mind?..... is a good question. A difficult one too. Firstly, the truth needs to explained. What is it that you are looking for? If it is the truth of the matter (object), than surely truth of matter should exist even in the absence of your mind. But if you seek truth through perception it can be non-existent, non-fact. The possibilty of untruth is high in the latter case.

But, while perceiving, we can differ on the charecteristics or quality of the object in question, but it cannot be denied under majority approval or acceptence. The mind relying on our sense's is subject to mistakes, variations, fallibility and paradigms.

But if the discussion between the seeking-mind and the answering mind is on conceived ideas, notional idioms, words, and concepts than it wholly depends on the experineces of the individuals. And therefore subjective. In such situations, truth is no where around.


kennethamy;98455 wrote:
B
we might say that our knowledge of the truth is subjective, but not that truth is subjective. For there can be truths we do not know. And one of them may be that other people do have minds.


I appreciate that point. Knowledge is the processed information stored in the mind which when considered or taken in is assumed as a truth. If the mind cannot read or relate to the information as truths it is not let in. There is an axiom and an assumption, at first, that the information which is coming in is true to its fact.

Moreover, there can be real things or realities (and not 'truth') we do not know. Truth, for me, appears to be a qualification we use in language while comparing due to deficiency of data, or misinterpretation of data. It is more used when comparing or discussing the known and the possible unknown.

Other people have minds almost similar to us or myself (in its mechanism or functionality and structure) is a natural instinct not requiring a verification for the truth/fact/object.

If i do a bold interpretation of what i said above, then it could mean:
I think, therefore you are!
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 28 Oct, 2009 07:06 am
@Jackofalltrades phil,
Jackofalltrades;100282 wrote:
bowden....... thanks for threading in!

can there be truth beyond my mind?..... is a good question. A difficult one too. Firstly, the truth needs to explained. What is it that you are looking for? If it is the truth of the matter (object), than surely truth of matter should exist even in the absence of your mind. But if you seek truth through perception it can be non-existent, non-fact. The possibilty of untruth is high in the latter case.

But, while perceiving, we can differ on the charecteristics or quality of the object in question, but it cannot be denied under majority approval or acceptence. The mind relying on our sense's is subject to mistakes, variations, fallibility and paradigms.

But if the discussion between the seeking-mind and the answering mind is on conceived ideas, notional idioms, words, and concepts than it wholly depends on the experineces of the individuals. And therefore subjective. In such situations, truth is no where around.




I appreciate that point. Knowledge is the processed information stored in the mind which when considered or taken in is assumed as a truth. If the mind cannot read or relate to the information as truths it is not let in. There is an axiom and an assumption, at first, that the information which is coming in is true to its fact.

Moreover, there can be real things or realities (and not 'truth') we do not know. Truth, for me, appears to be a qualification we use in language while comparing due to deficiency of data, or misinterpretation of data. It is more used when comparing or discussing the known and the possible unknown.

Other people have minds almost similar to us or myself (in its mechanism or functionality and structure) is a natural instinct not requiring a verification for the truth/fact/object.

If i do a bold interpretation of what i said above, then it could mean:
I think, therefore you are!



Truth is a relation between belief and the world. If my belief corresponds to how the world is, then my belief is true. If it does not, then my belief is false. Aristotle wrote: To say what is true is to say that what is, is, and to say that what is, is not. That seems right to me.

So, for it to be true that there are other minds is for my belief (or statement) that there are other minds to be so related to the world that it corresponds to how the world is.
 
Dasein
 
Reply Wed 28 Oct, 2009 07:29 am
@D bowden,
I invite you to read my blog http://www.philosophyforum.com/blogs/dasein/511-reading-heidegger.html. It contains some choice words re: Descartes and cogito ergo sum.

I will quote a short section of it here:
Quote:
Let's step back into the history of philosophy for a moment. In 1637 Rene Descartes concluded that he is a "thinking thing" and he can be certain that he exists because he thinks. This is represented by his famous cogito ergo sum ("I think, therefore I am").

How did he come to that conclusion?

In Part IV of "Discourse on the Method" he attempted to arrive at a fundamental set of principles, rules that he could know as true without any doubt. (He wanted proof of be-ing). Descartes arrived at a single principle: thought exists.

As he was sitting there thinking about "thought exists", he could have noticed "I'm thinking."

After a short while he probably could have come up with "I am = being" or "I am being, therefore I think". From there it is a very short leap to "I am. I think." or much more accurately "I am, thinking." He would have then noticed that the "I", the "am", and the "thinking" are all be-ing.

How the hell do you write about "I am, thinking"?


Please go to the link above to read the rest of the blog.

Dasein
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 28 Oct, 2009 08:20 am
@Dasein,
Dasein;100286 wrote:
I invite you to read my blog http://www.philosophyforum.com/blogs/dasein/511-reading-heidegger.html. It contains some choice words re: Descartes and cogito ergo sum.

I will quote a short section of it here:


Please go to the link above to read the rest of the blog.

Dasein


As he was sitting there thinking about "thought exists", he could have noticed "I'm thinking."

After a short while he probably could have come up with "I am = being" or "I am being, therefore I think". From there it is a very short leap to "I am. I think." or much more accurately "I am, thinking." He would have then noticed that the "I", the "am", and the "thinking" are all be-ing.


Well, maybe that is what he should have done, but according to him, that was not what he did do. In fact, he does not tell us that he was thinking about "thought exists" at all. He as thinking about thinking. And he did not "notice" that he was "be-ing". In fact, he did not particularly notice anything, but he argued that, since he was thinking (or conscious-really) that he exists, for he could not have thought (or have done anything-even walk) unless he existed. It is, I think, important to look at what Descartes actually writes. Interpretations come later, but the interpretations are not ascribable to him.
 
Dasein
 
Reply Wed 28 Oct, 2009 08:35 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;

Did you just read the section I quoted or did you read the entire essay?

Could it be possible that what I am saying has nothing to do with Descartes, his thought process, my accuracy of what he is saying, or your disputing that lack of accuracy? Could it be that what I'm saying doesn't show up in what I am writing. Could it be possible that what I am "pointing to" can't be wrtten about or proven? Isn't what I am saying consistent with the fact that "be-ing" can't be proved and that we are all looking in the wrong place?

Philosophy is not the answer. The answer is somewhere between the lines of copy on the page. Philosophy can only point us in the right direction. It is up to us to "listen."

Dasein
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 28 Oct, 2009 08:54 am
@Dasein,
Dasein;100297 wrote:
kennethamy;

Did you just read the section I quoted or did you read the entire essay?

Could it be possible that what I am saying has nothing to do with Descartes, his thought process, my accuracy of what he is saying, or your disputing that lack of accuracy? Could it be that what I'm saying doesn't show up in what I am writing. Could it be possible that what I am "pointing to" can't be wrtten about or proven? Isn't what I am saying consistent with the fact that "be-ing" can't be proved and that we are all looking in the wrong place?

Philosophy is not the answer. The answer is somewhere between the lines of copy on the page. Philosophy can only point us in the right direction. It is up to us to "listen."

Dasein


I did not say that what you wrote has nothing to do with Descartes. It obviously does. I wrote that it is a possible interpretation of what Descartes wrote in the First Meditation. But it is certainly not what Descartes says happened. I don't know what it means to "prove" being. What are we looking in the wrong place for?

---------- Post added 10-28-2009 at 10:56 AM ----------

Dasein;100297 wrote:
kennethamy;

Did you just read the section I quoted or did you read the entire essay?

Could it be possible that what I am saying has nothing to do with Descartes, his thought process, my accuracy of what he is saying, or your disputing that lack of accuracy? Could it be that what I'm saying doesn't show up in what I am writing. Could it be possible that what I am "pointing to" can't be wrtten about or proven? Isn't what I am saying consistent with the fact that "be-ing" can't be proved and that we are all looking in the wrong place?

Philosophy is not the answer. The answer is somewhere between the lines of copy on the page. Philosophy can only point us in the right direction. It is up to us to "listen."

Dasein


I did not say that what you wrote has nothing to do with Descartes. It obviously does. I wrote that it is a possible interpretation of what Descartes wrote in the First Meditation. (Not one that I would give, however). But it is certainly not what Descartes says happened. I don't know what it means to "prove" being. What are we looking in the wrong place for? And what is philosophy not the answer to? I suppose there are many things to which philosophy is not the answer. Exactly which do you mean?
 
Dasein
 
Reply Wed 28 Oct, 2009 10:03 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;

Quote:

I did not say that what you wrote has nothing to do with Descartes. It obviously does. I wrote that it is a possible interpretation of what Descartes wrote in the First Meditation. But it is certainly not what Descartes says happened. I don't know what it means to "prove" being. What are we looking in the wrong place for?



I know that I am treading on thin ice here and I mean no disrespect whatsoever. Do you believe everything you read?

The reason I ask is because each of us make choices in every instant of every day. In that "instant" we make a new distinction (a new possibility for living) and we either "stand our ground" and bring that distinction into existence or we choose to surrender to the "status quo." The choice we make is between uncovering the possibility of who you are or training your self to get along with the rest of the world. One choice offers us the opportunity of defining the world and the other defines (imprisons) who we are.

When I read philosophy, I "bounce" it off of the possibility of "be-ing." Notice that I spelled be-ing (an action) and not "being" (a thing).

I am compelled to read Descartes using this filter because reading as-if I am a subject/object that can be defined by somebody else doesn't resolve anything for me.

Inserting myself into Descartes' thinking (becoming Descartes) and thinking through what he was thinking (not what he was writing) is the only way I know of to resolve anything for my self.

Bouncing Descartes' thinking off be-ing causes me to bring something "to-the-table." I suppose I could sit back and let the "world" define me, but I consider that to be a waste. It all comes down to choices. Rarely do I find anybody who makes choices consistent with mine. Rarely do I find people who see the opportunities available in the choices I've made.

I can't change your choices nor do I intend to try. At the same time I will keep making the choices that I am making.

I joined this forum to make a contribution. In my past experience I have found that spewing philosophical jargon and quoting historically prominant philosophers has never made a difference (contribution) in anybody's life. It's kind of like running around the same race track in the same circle and comparing your notes with the other participants. Who cares!

I want to make a contribution first and foremost. Controversy is a good thing.

Dasein
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 28 Oct, 2009 10:17 am
@Dasein,
Dasein;100319 wrote:
kennethamy;



I know that I am treading on thin ice here and I mean no disrespect whatsoever. Do you believe everything you read?

The reason I ask is because each of us make choices in every instant of every day. In that "instant" we make a new distinction (a new possibility for living) and we either "stand our ground" and bring that distinction into existence or we choose to surrender to the "status quo." The choice we make is between uncovering the possibility of who you are or training your self to get along with the rest of the world. One choice offers us the opportunity of defining the world and the other defines (imprisons) who we are.

When I read philosophy, I "bounce" it off of the possibility of "be-ing." Notice that I spelled be-ing (an action) and not "being" (a thing).

I am compelled to read Descartes using this filter because reading as-if I am a subject/object that can be defined by somebody else doesn't resolve anything for me.

Inserting myself into Descartes' thinking (becoming Descartes) and thinking through what he was thinking (not what he was writing) is the only way I know of to resolve anything for my self.

Bouncing Descartes' thinking off be-ing causes me to bring something "to-the-table." I suppose I could sit back and let the "world" define me, but I consider that to be a waste. It all comes down to choices. Rarely do I find anybody who makes choices consistent with mine. Rarely do I find people who see the opportunities available in the choices I've made.

I can't change your choices nor do I intend to try. At the same time I will keep making the choices that I am making.

I joined this forum to make a contribution. In my past experience I have found that spewing philosophical jargon and quoting historically prominant philosophers has never made a difference (contribution) in anybody's life. It's kind of like running around the same race track in the same circle and comparing your notes with the other participants. Who cares!

I want to make a contribution first and foremost. Controversy is a good thing.

Dasein


I have no objection to your interpreting Descartes. Why should I? But it is important to distinguish between what someone actually says, and your interpretation of what he say. Descartes does not say anything like what you ascribe to him.
I, myself, think that using a term like "be-ing" is spewing philosophical jargon, which you seem to deplore. I don't think anyone outside of philosophy uses the term, and I must confess I don't know what it means.
 
Dasein
 
Reply Wed 28 Oct, 2009 10:51 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;

Quote:
I have no objection to your interpreting Descartes. Why should I? But it is important to distinguish between what someone actually says, and your interpretation of what he say.


It is only important if you want Descartes to define who you are. It is also important if you want to use Descartes as an "authority" to define the people around you for whatever purpose you may have.

Quote:
Descartes does not say anything like what you ascribe to him.


You don't know what Descartes said, you only know what he wrote which means you don't know what he was thinking. You can only think for your self.

Quote:
I, myself, think that using a term like "be-ing" is spewing philosophical jargon, which you seem to deplore.


Your objection to my interpretation is noted.

Who you are is not a thing called a "human being", "rational animal", etc. You are a "human" be-ing. You are the active process of "that which shows itself in itself" (phenomenon). You are be (ing).

Quote:
I don't think anyone outside of philosophy uses the term, and I must confess I don't know what it means.


Daniel Webster doesn't define who you are. The dictionary can't define am, is or be. At best the dictionary can only slough off the definition as 1st or 3rd person singular or "verb and auxiliary verb." Only you can define what it means to "be" for you and for nobody else. I for one will not turn the job over to "anyone outside of philosophy."

If you let the world define you, you will never know your own magnificence.

BTW - I am on your side.

Dasein
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 29 Oct, 2009 12:58 am
@Dasein,
Dasein;100328 wrote:
kennethamy;



It is only important if you want Descartes to define who you are. It is also important if you want to use Descartes as an "authority" to define the people around you for whatever purpose you may have.



You don't know what Descartes said, you only know what he wrote which means you don't know what he was thinking. You can only think for your self.



Your objection to my interpretation is noted.

Who you are is not a thing called a "human being", "rational animal", etc. You are a "human" be-ing. You are the active process of "that which shows itself in itself" (phenomenon). You are be (ing).



Daniel Webster doesn't define who you are. The dictionary can't define am, is or be. At best the dictionary can only slough off the definition as 1st or 3rd person singular or "verb and auxiliary verb." Only you can define what it means to "be" for you and for nobody else. I for one will not turn the job over to "anyone outside of philosophy."

If you let the world define you, you will never know your own magnificence.

BTW - I am on your side.

Dasein


Just as I suppose that what you write in a post is what you say, so I suppose that what Descartes wrote is what he said. Have you any reason to suppose differently? (Do you suppose he was lying? Why?).

I am a human being because I have human DNA. I really do not understand what you are trying to convey with the term, "human be-ing". And your explanation is not really of help. I am not sure what an "active process" is, either. So it is really not of much help to tell me that a human be-ing is an active process. In any case, why can't a human being be an active process?

I don't expect anyone to define me. I never thought I had a definition. I thought it was only words that have definitions.
 
Jackofalltrades phil
 
Reply Thu 29 Oct, 2009 07:26 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;100283 wrote:
Truth is a relation between belief and the world. If my belief corresponds to how the world is, then my belief is true. If it does not, then my belief is false. Aristotle wrote: To say what is true is to say that what is, is, and to say that what is, is not. That seems right to me.

So, for it to be true that there are other minds is for my belief (or statement) that there are other minds to be so related to the world that it corresponds to how the world is.



Hi Ken

very interesting, ....... (at the risk of digressing, we would inadvertently get into psychology..... even so, lets indulge) Beliefs are just one aspect of the mind's working. the relationship it has with the world is dubious.

I get a feeling, that you may have just articulated it well or further qualified what i said. Misrepresentation of facts or gaps in understanding in our mind is what is belief. (relationship or gap in here connotes the same). The moment the fact is revealed or learned or obseved or thought about (as true) than at that moment we see it as knowledge. True knowledge. Knowledge, of course can further be refined.

Now, about other minds........ My pleading to the O Poster, is simple. The existence of other mind cannot be disputed because he and I and you are presently conversing in an commonly known language called English in a world or tool or platform called internet.

The rest of the quest becomes academic, or a philosophers past time.
 
 

 
  1. Philosophy Forum
  2. » Epistemology
  3. » I think, therefore i am
Copyright © 2019 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.02 seconds on 06/19/2019 at 12:05:05