I think, therefore i am

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Reconstructo
 
Reply Fri 27 Nov, 2009 04:05 pm
@kennethamy,
I respect your thoroughness and clarity. Also your tenacity. You seem to have read Descartes carefully.

On to the argument. I do not believe in objective certainty as objectivity itself is nothing but a useful fiction. This is the essence of my point. There are only feelings of certainty in regards to certain descriptions of "reality." And the word "reality" itself is an abstraction, and never perfectly definable. My general attitude has often been called "anti-foundationalist." Truth with a capital T is a fiction, a myth, not unlike the transcendent creator who probably inspired it. I use the word "fiction" in a metaphorical sense, for perhaps there is a transcendent creator. I don't believe this or anything else can be dis-proven. At the same time I find certain opinions to be more desirable than others. Perhaps you and I have different mental-models of human nature.
 
Inquisition
 
Reply Fri 27 Nov, 2009 10:30 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;106356 wrote:
But Descartes does not say that God is infinite and powerful. What he says is that our idea of God is the idea of an infinitely powerful being. And that is different.



Actually i took care and that is exaclty what he is saying. Maybe you should re-read it and see for yourself (no offense intended)

He says we have the idea of god as infinite and powerful, if you want to dispute wether he beleived that or not, go ahead.

The reason is that he uses this conception of god as infinite and powerful to show WHY he must be real.

Not he says that since this idea of something infinite could not originate in us (meaning he is presuming that he is infinite) it must have come from somewhere else. He goes on to ponder whether this could be the work of a demon trying to trick him. He eventually comes to the conclusion that this could not be (we can discuss this too but it matters not to what we are currently debating)

So you see he uses an idea which he has not proven to show why god must be real. If god is not infinite then you can see how his argument falls apart at the seams.

If you want to dispute whether or not he really believed in the things he used to support his argument, fine, i don't think either of us could know that for sure.

But we are not speaking of his beliefs, only his argument.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sat 28 Nov, 2009 01:33 am
@Inquisition,
I entered this thread with an attack on "cogito ergo sum." To say "I think" is already to imply an I that thinks. And what does it mean to say I am? What is indeterminate being? I am what? I exist? What is this existence devoid of content? I think what?

My point is that the statement is silly, when carefully examined. The rest does not concern me. I'm sure you know more about Descartes than I. And I don't mind that.
 
Inquisition
 
Reply Sat 28 Nov, 2009 06:08 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;106550 wrote:
I entered this thread with an attack on "cogito ergo sum." To say "I think" is already to imply an I that thinks. And what does it mean to say I am? What is indeterminate being? I am what? I exist? What is this existence devoid of content? I think what?

My point is that the statement is silly, when carefully examined. The rest does not concern me. I'm sure you know more about Descartes than I. And I don't mind that.


I agree with you 100 percent reconstucto. Most people argue about the "i am" part of "cogito ergo sum". It is very open to debate, but it is such a standard topic of debate that people often overlook the proof needed to validate some of the things before it. I was hoping to at least contribute a new perspective. That is what kathenamy and i were discussing.

I don't know all that much about descartes, just his meditations which we read and discussed in my philosophy class.

The questions you raised are very insightful and i think they hit the mark. This thread started with people having (at least for the sake of the argument) accepted the cogito and were trying to prove the existence of other minds other than the one thinking.

You seem very down to earth. It is a great quality to have and thank you for being nice about it all
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 28 Nov, 2009 07:25 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;106447 wrote:
I respect your thoroughness and clarity. Also your tenacity. You seem to have read Descartes carefully.

On to the argument. I do not believe in objective certainty as objectivity itself is nothing but a useful fiction. This is the essence of my point. There are only feelings of certainty in regards to certain descriptions of "reality." And the word "reality" itself is an abstraction, and never perfectly definable. My general attitude has often been called "anti-foundationalist." Truth with a capital T is a fiction, a myth, not unlike the transcendent creator who probably inspired it. I use the word "fiction" in a metaphorical sense, for perhaps there is a transcendent creator. I don't believe this or anything else can be dis-proven. At the same time I find certain opinions to be more desirable than others. Perhaps you and I have different mental-models of human nature.


I did not say there was such a thing as objective certainty. I said objective certainty was what Descartes was aiming at, not subjective or psychological certainty. He did not care about that. People feel certain about all sorts of things, about which they later turn out to be wrong. And people feel certain about contrary things. Subjective certainty is of no epistemological interest. Descartes presented as his prime example of objective certainty, "I exist". So, if you are going to deny there is such a thing as objective certainty, you have to deny you are objectively certain that you (yourself) exist. That is, that it would be possible for you to be mistaken about whether you exist. Do you think it would be possible for you to believe that you exist, and still not exist? For that is what it would be for you to be mistaken that you exist.

None of your pronouncements about certainty being a useful fiction really matter. You may think what you like. But you still have Descartes argument to wrestle with, and simply saying that objective certainty is a useful fiction, or the truth with a capital T is a fiction, will really not cut it. It is the argument that is the thing, and as Socrates said, "we must follow the argument wherever she leads us". How do you handle Descartes's argument that it is impossible to be mistaken about whether one exists, for in order to be mistaken, one must exist? Have you a reply?
 
Emil
 
Reply Sat 28 Nov, 2009 08:44 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;106583 wrote:
I did not say there was such a thing as objective certainty. I said objective certainty was what Descartes was aiming at, not subjective or psychological certainty. He did not care about that. People feel certain about all sorts of things, about which they later turn out to be wrong. And people feel certain about contrary things. Subjective certainty is of no epistemological interest. Descartes presented as his prime example of objective certainty, "I exist". So, if you are going to deny there is such a thing as objective certainty, you have to deny you are objectively certain that you (yourself) exist. That is, that it would be possible for you to be mistaken about whether you exist. Do you think it would be possible for you to believe that you exist, and still not exist? For that is what it would be for you to be mistaken that you exist.

None of your pronouncements about certainty being a useful fiction really matter. You may think what you like. But you still have Descartes argument to wrestle with, and simply saying that objective certainty is a useful fiction, or the truth with a capital T is a fiction, will really not cut it. It is the argument that is the thing, and as Socrates said, "we must follow the argument wherever she leads us". How do you handle Descartes's argument that it is impossible to be mistaken about whether one exists, for in order to be mistaken, one must exist? Have you a reply?


Not quite sure that subjective certainty is of no epistemic interest, but otherwise I agree.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 28 Nov, 2009 09:05 am
@Emil,
Emil;106599 wrote:
Not quite sure that subjective certainty is of no epistemic interest, but otherwise I agree.


Yes. I have been told over a trillion times not to exaggerate.
 
Emil
 
Reply Sat 28 Nov, 2009 09:37 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;106601 wrote:
Yes. I have been told over a trillion times not to exaggerate.


Hahahahaha. Priceless!

Quoted.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sat 28 Nov, 2009 04:29 pm
@D bowden,
In a practical sense, his argument holds. Of course. But if I am to take his argument as a serious foundation, I cannot help questioning the words. To thoroughly define the word "I" is the project of a life-time. Point out to me this "I." Is it my face in the mirror? But that is a face, not an "I." Is it one of my particular thoughts? But that is just a thought, and even the word "thought" is an abstraction. What does it mean to exist? What is being? Hegel argued that indeterminate being is precisely nothingness. He makes a good point.

"Think" is verb that is better used transitively. "I think" is already stuffed with abstractions and complexities. The concept of "I" is learned, just as the concept "think" is learned.

But a person can't go through life as a linguistic philosopher. I'm not going to interrupt my wife when she uses the word "I." I'm not going to argue with a sweet old lady that uses the word soul, demanding that she define it. I will, however, object to a mathematician-rationalist who pretends to found his system on an axiom so complex.
 
Inquisition
 
Reply Mon 30 Nov, 2009 05:14 pm
@Reconstructo,
Kennethamy i wish you would just answer my question instead of dodging it.

Descartes's argument, aside from the practicality of it, makes no sense at all. It is completely fallacious and devoid of logical procedure.

How can you turn a blind eye to such informal and formal fallacies?

It is not that i don't agree with what the product of his argument, i beleive i exist, i beleive i can sufficiently prove many things beyond that. The manner in which he proved it though is illogical and many other philosophers have improved his argument, and deserve credit for it.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 30 Nov, 2009 06:27 pm
@Inquisition,
Inquisition;107130 wrote:
Kennethamy i wish you would just answer my question instead of dodging it.

Descartes's argument, aside from the practicality of it, makes no sense at all. It is completely fallacious and devoid of logical procedure.

How can you turn a blind eye to such informal and formal fallacies?

It is not that i don't agree with what the product of his argument, i beleive i exist, i beleive i can sufficiently prove many things beyond that. The manner in which he proved it though is illogical and many other philosophers have improved his argument, and deserve credit for it.


What is your question?
 
Inquisition
 
Reply Mon 30 Nov, 2009 08:25 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;107137 wrote:
What is your question?


DO you beleive that the cogita argument, as provided by Descartes, hold up logically as a philosophical argument?
 
Emil
 
Reply Tue 1 Dec, 2009 01:43 am
@Inquisition,
Inquisition;107160 wrote:
DO you beleive that the cogita argument, as provided by Descartes, hold up logically as a philosophical argument?


What do you imagine that "hold up logically as a philosophical argument" means? I have no clue.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Tue 1 Dec, 2009 01:58 am
@D bowden,
I want status therefore I persuade. Smile
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 1 Dec, 2009 08:21 am
@Emil,
Emil;107220 wrote:
What do you imagine that "hold up logically as a philosophical argument" means? I have no clue.


Yes, I guess that is why I was unable to reply to his question. If he means, does the Cogito (not Cogita) seem to be a good argument, my answer is, yes. It does. Although it is certainly controversial. But, if we suppose existential generalization, as I think we should, then nothing can think or do anything at all unless it exists.
 
Inquisition
 
Reply Tue 1 Dec, 2009 11:35 am
@kennethamy,
Ok let me be clear then. Is it fallacious?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 1 Dec, 2009 11:40 am
@Inquisition,
Inquisition;107307 wrote:
Ok let me be clear then. Is it fallacious?


Not that I can see.
 
Inquisition
 
Reply Tue 1 Dec, 2009 12:17 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;107308 wrote:
Not that I can see.


So that we may be clear let me restate his arguments:
  • We have in our mind the idea of God as an infinitely perfect Being.
  • But an infinitely perfect Being must have existence, otherwise it would not be infinitely perfect.
  • Ergo, God exists.
second dline of thought
  • We have the idea of God in our mind.
  • Since this idea represents an infinitely perfect Being, we, as finite beings, cannot have originated such an idea in virtue of our own powers.
  • This idea being beyond our mental capacity, it could have originated only from a Being who possesses such infinite perfection.
  • Ergo, God exists.
Descartes began his inquiry by doubting all knowledge without exception; he was even willing to accept it as "entirely false." This being the case, what about the idea of God as an all-perfect Being, since he admits that he discovered this idea in his own mind? According to his own principle of universal doubt, he simply cannot know whether this idea of God is correct or incorrect; as a matter of fact, according to this principle, he should consider it as "entirely false," until proved otherwise. But if his idea of God as an all-perfect Being may be incorrect, he cannot logically deduce from this idea God's existence and veracity.

Since the very idea of God is doubtful, his very reason and the process of reasoning is as yet of doubtful validity, how can be validly demonstrate God's existence and veracity? The trustworthiness of Descartes' reasoning powers is supposed to flow as a necessary consequence from the infinite perfection of God; and God's infinite perfect is made certain to him by means of a proof developed by these very reasoning powers, before he has proved that these reasoning powers are valid and trustworthy: he thereby gratuitously assumes the very thing beforehand which he intends to prove afterwards. (A logical fallacy called Begging the Question, or a circular argument.)
 
Emil
 
Reply Tue 1 Dec, 2009 12:42 pm
@D bowden,
"Begging the question" and "circular argument" are not synonymous. Nor do the terms mean the same. (Circular arguments are a subset of BTQ arguments. Circular arguments have a clear, simple form, while the form of BTQ arguments is unknown.)
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 1 Dec, 2009 12:49 pm
@Inquisition,
Inquisition;107312 wrote:
So that we may be clear let me restate his arguments:
  • We have in our mind the idea of God as an infinitely perfect Being.
  • But an infinitely perfect Being must have existence, otherwise it would not be infinitely perfect.
  • Ergo, God exists.

second dline of thought
  • We have the idea of God in our mind.
  • Since this idea represents an infinitely perfect Being, we, as finite beings, cannot have originated such an idea in virtue of our own powers.
  • This idea being beyond our mental capacity, it could have originated only from a Being who possesses such infinite perfection.
  • Ergo, God exists.



The Cogito (which I thought we were talking about until this moment) is an argument that purports to show that I exist. (I think, therefore I exist) It is not an argument for God.
 
 

 
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