Very nice analysis of Descartes' "cogito ergo sum."RJG wrote: ↑November 21st, 2018, 5:06 pmHow does one find True Knowledge?
There seems to me to be two methods to finding "true knowledge".
- A. Descartes "clean slate" method (which he failed at), and
B. Removing 'logical impossibilities' from our pool of contaminated knowledge.
A. Descartes "clean slate" method.
Descartes's goal was to arrive at one item of truth that could serve as the starting-point and foundation for all knowledge. His starting point was his famous statement "I think, therefore I am". As Descartes explained, "We cannot doubt of our existence while we doubt …" Descartes asserted that the very act of doubting one's own existence was proof of the reality of one's own mind; there must be a thinking entity; a “self”; a “mind”, for there to be a thought.
According to Descartes, "I can doubt anything. But when I doubt, I am thinking, and as long as I am thinking, I exist. Thinking is inseparable from me. Thus I have a clear and distinct idea that I am a mind, or intelligence, and my nature is a thinking thing. On the other hand, I have also a clear idea of body as an extended and non-thinking thing." He concludes that res cogitans and res extensa are two independent entities. This dichotomy is the foundation of Descartes's dualism. “For all that I am a thing that is real and which truly exists. But what kind of a thing? … A thinking thing (res cogitans).”
Descartes errors --
So to help Descartes reach his original goal of a "clean slate" method, I have re-written his logical statement that satisfies his original goal:
- Firstly, Descartes commits the logical fallacy of "begging-the-question" (pre-assuming the conclusion in his premise) in his famous "I think, therefore I am" quote. Notice the two occurrences of "I". He pre-assumes the existence of "I" in his premise, "I think", to then conclude it's existence in his conclusion "therefore I exist". Descartes has committed the logical fallacy of "begging-the-question". Similar examples include:
- 1. God answers prayers, therefore God exists.
2. Ghosts are invisible, therefore ghosts exist.
3. X does Y, therefore X exists
4. I think, therefore I exist (...Descartes flawed logic)
Secondly, Descartes, like most most people, automatically (and falsely!) conflate the "experiencing of thoughts" with the "thinking" of thoughts. Instead of Descartes immediately stopping and proclaiming to the world, “I EXPERIENCE THOUGHTS!” as his starting premise to derive all true knowledge, he instead takes a blind leap of faith, and falsely proclaims “I THINK!” as his fateful (and flawed) starting premise.
The experiencing-of-thoughts and the thinking-of-thoughts are not necessarily the same thing. One is a passive experience (the hearing of a constant monologue voice in one’s head), and the other is an action (the authoring/creating/constructing of those thoughts that are then experienced). Descartes falsely equivocates the two as one-in-the-same in his "I think" premise.
Descartes doesn't (can't) really know "with certainty" that he "thinks", for all he can really know "with certainty" is that he "experiences thoughts". He can only presume that he is the “thinker”; the author/creator/constructor of these thoughts. Although the “I experience thoughts” versus “I think” may seem to be a minor nit-picky technicality, it is nonetheless ultra-critical, ...especially if this ("first principle") starting premise is to serve as the 'seed' to derive all 'true' knowledge.
Thirdly, Descartes did not go back far enough. If one’s goal is to find the true starting point of knowledge, then the starting premise is of utmost criticalness. This starting premise needs to be ‘absolute and undeniable’. Descartes premise “I think” does not meet this level of certainty. Descartes should replace the “I think”, with “I experience”, or to be truly accurate, he should replace it with “Experiencing exists”. Since the “I” has not yet been determined with absolute certainty, it does not belong in this starting premise. For this critical first premise, the ‘experiencing’ itself is the only true absolute/undoubtable thing, and therefore is the only thing that belongs in this starting premise.
“Experiencing exists, therefore I (the experiencer) exist.”
But this of course, shoots down his dualistic position. “I” is just the ‘experiencer’ of thoughts, (and feelings, and sensory experiences); "I" is just a "res extensa", and is NOT a ‘mind’, nor a 'thinker of thoughts' entity; not a "res cogitans".
And from this point, we can begin to logically derive "true knowledge"!
Next: Part B. Removing 'logical impossibilities' from our pool of contaminated knowledge.
I take it you would go with "experiento ergo sum."
Samee-same G/I soldier, however. I don't really see any difference other than semantics.