I Think that I Think; Therefore, I Might Be...?
edited: Monday, June 16, 2008
By Jeremy DeVaughn
Rated "PG13" by the Author.
Posted: Monday, June 16, 2008
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I discuss the subject of "existence".
One of the fundamental philosophical questions of the Universe is "Why do we exist?". SInce the beginning of time - already a damn paradox in that it is difficult to grasp a "beginning" of "time" - mankind has attempted to rationalize his existence in the Universe. Thinkers like Jesus and Descartes, with their "God loves you, so don't burn in the Hell He made for you" and "I think; therefore, I am", respectively.
Incidentally, Jesus' nonsense is quite simple to pick apart: God created Hell for sinners, and He made it possible for everyone to sin...Being omniscient and knowing the future, God was aware that He was creating Hell for people to spend eternity. But He loves you? I think not.
If I were to create two roads for you to travel on, one with a cliff at the end - a cliff that I designed to kill whoever had the misfortune to fall down it - and one with happiness and puffy white clouds, and if I were to know beforehand which road you would pick, I would be a murderer. If nothing else, I couldn't very well say that I loved you, if I created the means by which you would be eradicated.
Descartes' rationalization of his existence is flawed in several ways. If you only exist if you can think, then, if you are brain-dead, you do not, in fact, exist. Likewise, if you are drunk, you have disappeared from the Universe, only to reappear with a hangover and the phrase "What happened last night?" rolling around in your brain. Coincidentally, all non-thinking, inanimate objects do not exist. Thus, Descartes did nothing to prove his existence. He only furthered the complications of the ideas regarding existence.
So...Why do we exist?
Well, I think that a more fitting question is "Do we exist?".
Can you prove to me that you exist?
I doubt that you can.
I asked a random person how he could prove to me that he existed.
The conversation was as follows:
"Hello, sir...I'm asking random people on the street if they can prove their own existence. Can you prove that you exist?"
At that point the fellow looked at me in a rather peculiar fashion and said, "Jeremy...I'm not a random person on the street. And you said I was coming over here to play cards and eat chips."
"A-ha! So you can't prove that you exist," I retaliated.
"Um...Yes, actually. I believe that I can," replied my visitor...rather insulted.
"Proceed, then...if you can."
"Well...first of all, I'm right here. Look in my direction, and you will see me."
"My eyes translate the environment, but how do I know that they aren't tricking me. I bet if I were to be on some psychotic hallucinogen, I'd see all kinds of crazy things. Perhaps a dragon. Does the dragon exist if I can see it?"
My friend - the stranger...whatever - considered this. "Well...I am tangible. You could touch me and feel that I exist."
"Perhaps," I began, "but how do I know that my nerves aren't translating false signals to my brain? I know a fellow who thinks he is a glass of orange juice...Drugs and whatnot. Anyway...His brain appears to be translating many false signals. How would I know if I had the same condition?"
My friend was defeated at this point because he saw where this was headed. "So," he said, "I guess I can't prove it."
As fate would have it, you cannot prove or disprove anything if you remove all the usual "givens" like physical sensations, sights, sounds, and other understood things.