Now, imagine we are in the reality in which Descartes finds himself describing. We cannot trust anything as conventionally real. Trapped in a nightmarish matrix where all of reality is but a facade. Feeling disillusioned Descartes carries onward with his task.
Do I exist?
The basis of his proof of existence appears first in his spontaneous exclamation. “[I]t must finally be established that this pronouncement “I am, I exist” is necessarily true every time I utter it or conceive it in my mind.” Even if he is deceived by a malicious evil genius, he must exist in order to be deceived. This insight allows him to affirm he exists in some manner. He may not be Descartes, human, male or even anything he has predisposed himself of being. He can be sure that he exists as a thinking being.
This is an astounding revelation in so that he can only claim true his own existence. Everything external of the mind, however, is shrouded in doubt. Even the existence of his own senses and body. It must be said, he does not believe you should act upon this idea that everything external may not exist.
After identifying his existence to be true; he attempts to classify in what manner he exists. More plainly in what form he might embody. He first scratches at the idea that he is a man or rational animal. This is still external to the mind. The next is his body and his nourishment intake, again they are external to his thinking self.
What if I stop thinking?
He goes on further to suggest that he exists as far as he is thinking. Is it possible that if he stops thinking that he would utterly cease to exist? He believes this to also be true. If he ceases to thinking then he no longer exists. Think about this for a moment, do you exist when you are not thinking? If you are alone in the woods, and nobody’s there to see or hear you, and you stop thinking, did you cease to exist?
The next concept he challenges is that of change in a material he has been observing. He notices how wax changes from the form of a candle to melted wax. The wax still exists in matter, yet is not the same as when it was solidified. What then, in the concept of wax, did we truly grasp?
To be continued…
Up next: “Concerning God, That He Exists”