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Rene Descartes Cogito Ergo Sum

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René Descartes

René Descartes was a French philosopher, mathematician, scientist, and writer of the 17th century. He was dissatisfied with the philosophy of his time which was dominated by scholastic philosophy, which sought to answer highly abstract philosophical questions mainly on the basis of Aristotle’s teachings. Descartes was dissatisfied with this kind of philosophy because he considered their highly abstract arguments senseless. Because of this dissatisfaction, Descartes tried to create a whole new system of thought that would unify all knowledge. As a result, René Descartes has been dubbed the “Father of Modern Philosophy”.

René Descartes is the man credited to the famous dictum, Cogito Ergo Sum which translates to “I think, therefore I am”. Can one really prove that something, anything exists by this? I would like to believe that the cogito phrase holds an absolute truth.  Come to think of this, if you’re even having these profound thoughts of questioning whether anything exists or not, if you even really care about purpose, the meaning, existence, why you are here or if you are real, can’t you then establish that you exist? Just by the mere fact that you are doing the process of examining yourself, you inside know that you are a complex creature, you truly do exists. If you’re looking at questions of self purpose and meaning and the existence of God, none of it would make sense but for the fact that you exists. Only you and you alone can prove that you exist, and that proof is still only yours. It really is just a simple proof that as an individual, you think so you are real. And in the case if you doubt your own existence, who is it that is doing the doubting? In Descartes’ view, the very ability to doubt one’s own existence means that there must be an object, a real thinking person who is pondering the question.

Descartes was revolutionary in his method of doubting his way to the truth. He was trying to determine whether anything that he knows of is certain. He decided that he could not rely on any evidence acquired from his senses since they are sometimes deceiving or misleading. A straight stick could look bent in water. Moreover, he realized that there is at least one thing that cannot be doubted: the fact that we exist. Every thought no matter how unreliable proved he existed as a thinking thing.

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