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Cogito, Ergo Sum (“I Think, Therefore I Am”) – The Fundamental Position of Descartes

Introduction

Many philosophers, researchers, and scientists have explored the question of whether a person can be sure about anything they know or perceive through their feelings. Rene Descartes, who shared the ideas of rationalism, claimed that the one, certain truth is that every time one thinks he or she exists, he or she exists (Descartes 50). This concept is also known as “cogito”; the word comes from Latin and is translated as “I think” (Descartes 50). The purpose of this paper is to discuss the idea and the argument in favor of the claim as well as to analyze them.

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Reconstruction of the Argument

In accordance with the views of Descartes, all the opinions on the world should be doubted because people tend to take false concepts for true ones. Furthermore, in spite of the fact that a person perceives reality via his senses, they cannot be wholly trusted either (Descartes 55). The ground is that a person’s senses have at least once deceived him or her. For example, when one in his dream is sitting in a chair, they are sure that this is true but in fact, this person is lying in the bed at the moment. Hence, dreams and senses might be capable of deluding a human, and one should not always rely on them.

Further, Descartes drives doubt to extremes by imagining that there is an evil spirit that imposes fake ideas and feelings on people. This thought experiment promotes the concept of absolute delusion and is necessary for doubting anything without reservation (Descartes 56). In this context, a question arises if a person can hold anything as true at all. In fact, the principle of absolute delusion as a result of the evil genius’s compulsion suggested by Descartes leaves one thing to be true for sure. This is the existence of the person that can be proven rationally. The evil genius cannot make a human being sure that they do not exist because to be deluded, they must exist. Therefore, when one thinks about their existence it means that they exist otherwise they would not be able to think about it. This argument proves the statement that the only truth known to be such for sure is that we exist when we think about it.

Reaction to the Argument

In my opinion, the argument described above might be seen as a strong one because it supports the author’s position. I as well as many people sometimes question if reality exists in the way we perceive it via our senses. Some dreams are so vivid that they create an absolute feeling of realness and it is hard to believe that they are just a game of unconsciousness and imagination. Besides, the development of technologies and the invention of devices like VR glasses made it possible to deceive senses on purpose by immersing oneself in computer-developed worlds. This advancement, on the one hand, has created new opportunities, for example, healing paralyzed people by deluding their senses and making the brain think they can move. On the other hand, the technologies have demonstrated how easy it is to get deceived. Hence, a question arises: what if our senses lie; what if we do not exist? However, a person’s existence is impossible to reject to doubt for every time one might think that they do not exist they prove the opposite.

Conclusion

To sum up, Rene Descartes pressed the point that the cogito concept is the only thing we can assert with certitude. His argument was that people cannot fully trust their senses and the reality we know might be an illusion but to be deluded about his or her existence, the person should exist. This argument seems to be strong for it supports the author’s position. Indeed, the attempts to refute the argument end up proving it.

Work Cited

Descartes, Rene. Delphi Collected Works of René Descartes (Illustrated). Vol. 25. Delphi Classics, 2017.

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StudyCorgi. "Cogito, Ergo Sum (“I Think, Therefore I Am”) – The Fundamental Position of Descartes." March 5, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/cogito-ergo-sum-i-think-therefore-i-am-the-fundamental-position-of-descartes/.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Cogito, Ergo Sum (“I Think, Therefore I Am”) – The Fundamental Position of Descartes." March 5, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/cogito-ergo-sum-i-think-therefore-i-am-the-fundamental-position-of-descartes/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Cogito, Ergo Sum (“I Think, Therefore I Am”) – The Fundamental Position of Descartes'. 5 March.

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