The Instigator
Vi_Veri
Con (against)
Winning
46 Points
The Contender
lelanatty
Pro (for)
Losing
14 Points

I can not prove that I exist.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 10 votes the winner is...
Vi_Veri
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/11/2009 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,059 times Debate No: 10061
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (57)
Votes (10)

 

Vi_Veri

Con

My opponent made the claim, "I can not prove that I exist." I would like her to defend this statement.

This will be a two round debate, starting in round 2. Round 1 will be used for definitions.

Definitions:

Exist (http://www.merriam-webster.com...)

1 a : to have real being whether material or spiritual b : to have being in a specified place or with respect to understood limitations or conditions

Self

2. The self; the ego. (http://www.thefreedictionary.com...)

Prove

1 archaic : to learn or find out by experience
2 a : to test the truth, validity, or genuineness of b : to test the worth or quality of; specifically : to compare against a standard —sometimes used with up or out c : to check the correctness of (as an arithmetic result)
3 a : to establish the existence, truth, or validity of (as by evidence or logic) b : to demonstrate as having a particular quality or worth
4 : to show (oneself) to be worthy or capable
lelanatty

Pro

Thank you, to my opponent, for challenging me to my first Debate.org debate.

I accept the format of the debate and I accept my opponent's definitions of Exist and Self. My opponent failed to provide a source for the definition of Prove, so I provide a supplementary definition with a source. I also define the words Perceive, Believe, Know, and They.

Prove: http://dictionary.reference.com...
1. to establish the truth or genuineness of, as by evidence or argument: to prove one's claim.
2. Law. to establish the authenticity or validity of (a will); probate.
3. to give demonstration of by action.
4. to subject to a test, experiment, comparison, analysis, or the like, to determine quality, amount, acceptability, characteristics, etc.: to prove ore.
5. to show (oneself) to have the character or ability expected of one, esp. through one's actions.
6. Mathematics. to verify the correctness or validity of by mathematical demonstration or arithmetical proof.
7. Also, proof. Printing. to take a trial impression of (type, a cut, etc.).
8. to cause (dough) to rise to the necessary lightness.
9. Archaic. to experience.

Perceive: http://www.merriam-webster.com...
1b : to regard as being such

Believe: http://www.merriam-webster.com...
1 a : to have a firm religious faith b : to accept as true, genuine, or real
2 : to have a firm conviction as to the goodness, efficacy, or ability of something
3 : to hold an opinion : think

Know: http://www.thefreedictionary.com...
1. To perceive directly; grasp in the mind with clarity or certainty.
2. To regard as true beyond doubt: I know she won't fail.
3. To have a practical understanding of, as through experience; be skilled in: knows how to cook.
4. To have fixed in the mind: knows her Latin verbs.
5. To have experience of: "a black stubble that had known no razor" (William Faulkner).
6. a. To perceive as familiar; recognize: I know that face. b. To be acquainted with: He doesn't know his neighbors.
7. To be able to distinguish; recognize as distinct: knows right from wrong.
8. To discern the character or nature of: knew him for a liar.

They: http://www.merriam-webster.com...
1 a : those ones —used as third person pronoun serving as the plural of he, she, or it or referring to a group of two or more individuals not all of the same sex b : 1he 2 —often used with an indefinite third person singular antecedent
2 : people 2 —used in a generic sense

I eagerly await my opponent's first arguments against my statement "I can not prove that I exist."
Debate Round No. 1
Vi_Veri

Con

To clarify, both Prove and Exist were from the same source (Marriam-Webster- http://www.merriam-webster.com...).

Short and sweet beginning to this debate:

Existence is Identity, Consciousness is Identification.

The act of grasping existence as a statement implies two corollary axioms: that something exists which one perceives and that one exists possessing consciousness - consciousness being the ability to perceive that which exists. Thus, existence exists.

Thus, by directly observing the word exists, I can say that I do in fact exist.

A consciousness without something to be conscious of is a direct contradiction. Before one can even say they are conscious, they have to be conscious of something. Therefore, something exists, and namely the observer, the conscious being that observes the existing nature that gives them the faculty of consciousness, exists. Thus, I can prove that I exist by the direct nature of my consciousness.

I hope this is an appropriate start!

Good luck to my opponent.

Regards,

Vi
lelanatty

Pro

I thank my opponent for beginning this debate with the basics.

First I refute my opponent's arguments:

I would like for my opponent to clarify how the "act of grasping existence as a statement" implies her two premises. This is not the root issue of her first "paragraph" of argumentation, however. My opponent uses circular logic to attempt to prove that she exists. By her reasoning, she exists because she perceives that she exists, but, by her same reasoning, one must exist to perceive (through consciousness).

Not only are those premises fallaciously used together, they themselves are assumptions that are unproven.

"something exists which one perceives"

It is common knowledge that perception is flawed. I am sure readers and my opponent can think of many examples of this for themselves.

"one exists possessing consciousness"
This is an assertion that directly contradicts my position, but has nothing to prove it due to the ambiguity of my opponent's opening clause.

My opponent's second "paragraph" of argumentation is also inherently false. Aside from the rather sumptuous statements the causal link between existence and consciousness is based on her first premise which I have already disproved.

"A consciousness without something to be conscious of is a direct contradiction."
A consciousness capable of being conscious of something but in present state unconscious of anything is covered by my opponent's next sentence, below, which is a fallacious one.

"Before one can even say they are conscious, they have to be conscious of something."
This is where my opponent appears to affirm her faith in Descartes' "I think therefore I am." They are conscious that they think, or of their own consciousness and ability to think, therefore they are conscious and exist, by my opponent's reasoning in her first "paragraph" of argumentation. This is where my opponent's logic falls. This is another fallacious argument of circular logic. My opponent attempts to use the awareness of consciousness as a result of itself.

My Argument:

I cannot prove that I exist because nothing can be proved or disproved.

A. Our lives are based on circumstances in which we are conditioned to believe, or not believe, certain ideals or statements.
There are plenty of examples of this including political party ideology, religion, Santa Clause, ghosts, evolution theory, basics of morality, etc. These are all things that we are taught by society that we are from early on conditioned to believe or not believe.

B. The things we are conditioned to believe are not always true.
There are also plenty of examples of this, but for better examination purposes let's use Santa Clause. Small children are led to believe by the only piece of society they are capable of experiencing, their parents and other relevant adults, that there is a great jolly man who brings them presents at the end of the year if they follow the set of rules set down for them by those authority figures or are "good." As children mature over their years they learn the truth. This institution of rewards implemented for the purpose of social obedience has been copied across many levels of government and other social hierarchical structures.

C. Decisions are made based on the societal norms laid before us.
Again, for the purpose of meaningful examination, let us look at one example, though there are so many. When we get up in the morning, we must decide what to wear for the activities of the day. We will take into consideration whether or not it is cold or hot outside, a societal teaching intended for the general physical welfare of the human body, but also what is considered to be "in style," and may put the perceived standard of society above our own desires and needs, simply for the reason that "everyone else is doing it."

Conclusion: Thus, we cannot prove anything to be true or false.

In these ways, I may have been told or led to believe that I exist, but, in reality, I may not.
The resolution stands: I cannot prove that I exist.
Debate Round No. 2
Vi_Veri

Con

It seems my opponent doesn't understand the simple nature of my argument. I'm also going to call her first paragraph out on a straw man (hopefully this was just her misunderstanding and not an intentional straw man of my argument).

It is impossible to be mistaken about one's own existence. If we do not exist then we cannot be mistaken.

To say that existence is not what it is, implies a contradiction. So, in short.... A = A

Definition of exist from earlier:

1 a : to have real being whether material or spiritual b : to have being in a specified place or with respect to understood limitations or conditions

To say that consciousness is not what it is, implies a contradiction. So, again in short.... B = B

Definition of consciousness (http://www.merriam-webster.com...)

1 a : the quality or state of being aware especially of something within oneself b : the state or fact of being conscious of an external object, state, or fact c : awareness; especially : concern for some social or political cause
2 : the state of being characterized by sensation, emotion, volition, and thought : mind
3 : the totality of conscious states of an individual
4 : the normal state of conscious life
5 : the upper level of mental life of which the person is aware as contrasted with unconscious processes

What my opponent is claiming is "circular reasoning" is not circular reasoning; it is self evident (they are axioms, which is why my opponent is confusing them with circular reasoning). It is A = A. Whatever thinks, exists, is self evident (logical axiom). To go against it would be to also go against the instantiation principle, which states: "Whatever has the property F, exists."

"Proper logical flow of argument is that existence is already assumed or pre-supposed in order for thinking to occur," Philosopher Soren Kierkegaard.

It all boils down to language. If my opponent does not agree that "existence exists" then she is committing a contradiction. If someone refuses to acknowledge this statement, all logical argument stops. For, if existence doesn't exist (all this means is, existence is what it is - like saying a chair is a chair, or red is red) - then nor does logic (which my opponent is attempting to use). If my opponent can not use logic, for it would not exist, then she has no argument.

Basics that refute part one of my opponent's argument against me (and to clarify to her what type of reasoning I am using, as was her first question to me):

"An axomatic concept is the identification of a primary fact of reality, which cannot be analyzed, i.e., reduced to other facts or broken into component parts. It is implicit in all facts and in all knowledge. It is the fundamentally given and directly perceived or experienced, which requires no proof or explanation, but on which all proofs and explanations rest." -- Ayn Rand

My two axioms were Consciousness and Existence.

On part two of my opponent's argument, that nothing can be proven:

"One can study what exists and how consciousness functions; but one cannot analyze (or "prove") existence as such, or consciousness as such. These are irreducible primaries. (An attempt to "prove" them is self-contradictory: it is an attempt to "prove" existence by means of nonexistence, and consciousness by means of unconsciousness.)" -- Ayn Rand

So, again, consciousness and existence are axioms.

Existence exists. And as I stated before, the act of grasping that statement (of being able to think it) implies the two axioms I presented earlier: that something exists which one perceives and that one exists possessing consciousness (which is the ability to perceive that which exists).

Perceive (through my opponent's own source)

1 a : to attain awareness or understanding of b : to regard as being such
2 : to become aware of through the senses; especially : see, observe

Thus, through the axioms of consciousness and existence, I can logically prove that I exist (which, to clarify for my opponent, a logical proof is - a formal series of statements showing that if one thing is true something else necessarily follows from it http://www.thefreedictionary.com...)

Now for a quick argument against my opponent saying that nothing can be proven (though logical proofs exist... things CAN be unproven (like contradictions, etc) so this is rather strange of my opponent to say (that things can't be unproven or proven)):

What my opponent has essentially said here is that she is subscribing to solipsism - but even those who believe solipsism do not deny that they have no proof of their own mind. (http://en.wikipedia.org...) Easy enough.

Regards,

Vi
lelanatty

Pro

The actual issue of arguing whether or not I can prove my own existence, or that my opponent can prove her existence, has been lost inamongst definitions and "clarification" of my opponent's arguments that I have already proven to be fallacious. Just for this, the resolution still stands.

I fail to see how asking for clarfication of how, or the way in which, my opponent's initial clause implies her two premises and proving that she uses circular logic and contradictory reasoning is a straw man argument.

My opponent's statement "It is impossible to be mistaken about one's own existence. If we do not exist then we cannot be mistaken." is an argument from ignorance and is comparable to saying "You can't fail if you don't try." Aside from the obvious fallacious denotation, this is an assertion that was unnecessary for refutation and does nothing for her arguments.

I never said that existence and consciousness are not what they are. I said that we can't prove that they are what we think they are because nothing can be proven or disproven.

My opponent's "clarification" of an axomatic concept proves that an axiom is fiscally the same thing as a premise, assertion, or assumption. I understood this fully when I answered her arguments and proceeded to refute them with logical arguments that my opponent did not even attempt to refute. Her only response was this "clarification" with the hope that all of my arguments were a result of my misunderstanding of her method of argumentation. I have here proved that her method of argumentation, though presented as definedly different from standard techniques, is the same.

In short for the rest of my opponent's arguments, all of the evidence my opponent gives cedes two points:

1. She comes out and admits that her arguments are based on Descartes' "I think therefore I am" by saying that "Whatever thinks, exists, is self evident." This philosophy has been proven to be faulty logic, especially because of the next thing my opponent cedes.

2. "Proper logical flow of argument is that existence is already assumed or pre-supposed in order for thinking to occur." My opponent admits that her arguments are assumptions, "pre-supposed." She gives no warrant to back up her premises and only says that they are inherently self-evident. This A = A is circular logic.

My opponent also misread my argument. She says "Now for a quick argument against my opponent saying that nothing can be proven..." My argument was that nothing can be proven OR disproven. Since she does not refute my argument, it stands. My opponent also uses the word "unproven" instead of "disproven." An unproven argument is one that has no actual warrant or evidence to support its claim. An argument that is disproven has been invalidated by hard evidence or the presence of a logical fallacy. If I may call up the definition of Prove that I provided in the first round:

Prove: http://dictionary.reference.com......
1. to establish the truth or genuineness of, as by evidence or argument: to prove one's claim.
2. Law. to establish the authenticity or validity of (a will); probate.
3. to give demonstration of by action.
4. to subject to a test, experiment, comparison, analysis, or the like, to determine quality, amount, acceptability, characteristics, etc.: to prove ore.
5. to show (oneself) to have the character or ability expected of one, esp. through one's actions.
6. Mathematics. to verify the correctness or validity of by mathematical demonstration or arithmetical proof.
7. Also, proof. Printing. to take a trial impression of (type, a cut, etc.).
8. to cause (dough) to rise to the necessary lightness.
9. Archaic. to experience.

My opponent failed to even attempt refuting my points A, B, and C, therefore my arguments to support my claim that nothing can be proven or disproven still stand.

My opponent's last words for this debate "What my opponent has essentially said here is that she is subscribing to solipsism - but even those who believe solipsism do not deny that they have no proof of their own mind" is both a straw man and an ad hominem. This was an extremely low blow for my opponent to attempt to make. To refute: my philosophy is not solipsism because solipsism is defined by my opponent's own source as "the philosophical idea that one's own mind is all that exists." My philosophy is that nothing can be proven or disproven to exist. There is a clear difference.

For all of these reasons the resolution is affirmed and all of my arguments still stand.
Debate Round No. 3
57 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by wjmelements 7 years ago
wjmelements
PRO: The only step missing between your advocacy and solipsism is Occam's Razor.
Posted by lelanatty 7 years ago
lelanatty
It makes it really hard when people keep telling you the exact opposite but if you have a srtong enough will eventually fighting for something becomes all you can do and you do believe it.
Posted by Vi_Veri 7 years ago
Vi_Veri
Hmm... I don't think so.
Posted by lelanatty 7 years ago
lelanatty
You can delude yourself into anything if you try hard enough.
Posted by Vi_Veri 7 years ago
Vi_Veri
LOL! heheh
Posted by Puck 7 years ago
Puck
Good luck with that!
Posted by Cody_Franklin 7 years ago
Cody_Franklin
Through ignoring gravity, I've learned to fly.
Posted by Puck 7 years ago
Puck
By not learning it, you can ignore it? Lol, I don't know.
Posted by Vi_Veri 7 years ago
Vi_Veri
How can you violate the law of identity?!?!?!?
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