All Big Issues
The Instigator
Con (against)
Losing
4 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
Winning
24 Points

# I think, therefore I am

Do you like this debate?NoYes-3

Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 8 votes the winner is...
t-man
 Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point Started: 10/4/2011 Category: Philosophy Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period Viewed: 2,861 times Debate No: 18626
Debate Rounds (4)

 Con I am against the validity of the statement, "I think, therefore I am." I, con, am proving why the statement is false, and pro is proving why the statement is true. 1st round is acceptance, 2nd through 4th have no rules. In this case, I is defined as the identity of self, or ego. Think is defined as having thoughts.Report this Argument Pro I accept.Report this Argument Con For pro to win this argument, they must prove that an I exists. To win the argument, I must prove that an I MAY not exist. If "I" think, it doesn't prove that "I" am thinking, it just proves that something is thinking. The "I" may be a product of that something's thought.Report this Argument Pro ====Rebuttal===="If "I" think, it doesn't prove that "I" am thinking"That's like saying, "If George walks, it doesn’t prove that George is walking". You seem to be saying that "I" am thinking and notthinking at the same time. That is logically imposable."it just proves that something is thinking. The "I" may be a product of that something' s thought.” That something is “I”. Your argument doesn’t even say anything about whether “I” am or not. ====Argument==== For something to be able to do something, it has to exist. It would be imposable for a nonexistent thing to start doing things in reality. Therefore, if something is thinking it has to exist. Finally, if “I” am thinking than “I” exist. To be is to exist, so “I” am.====Conclusion====Con has not put forth any argument that negates "I think therefore I am".I have proven the statement to be true.Vote Pro! Report this Argument Con The emphasis of my argument is on the "I." If something thinks, it is thinking, but the idea of ownership of the thoughts is a product of the thoughts. My point is that a completely unsubjective mind could be thinking. Nothing belongs to anything. The thoughts belong to themselves.Report this Argument Pro We are not arguing whether 'I" own the thoughts. That has nothing to do with the quote.My arguments still stand. Vote Pro!Report this Argument Con It actually does. Because the concept of an "I" isn't proven to own the thoughts, that makes the "I" potentially non-existent. "I" is the subject of the statement! And "Vote Pro!" is completely irrelevant to the debate.Report this Argument Pro "Because the concept of an "I" isn't proven to own the thoughts, that makes the "I" potentially non-existent."Why? "I" not owning thoughts doesn't mean "I" don't exist. Since "I" thinking does necessitate the existence of "I", my argument still stands.Report this Argument
15 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Chthonian 6 years ago
Raisor,

I have to admit that I don't always fully comprehend the genius of Descartes' methodology, but I firmly believe he had a personal motive to focus on a mind body dichotomy. Being a religious man, it is very convenient to separate the two because it provides evidence for the soul: a substance that can live without the body. I also wonder if he understood the potential contradiction implied in the affirmation I think, therefore I am. Specifically, that his body may not exist; but it must be interacting with his mind since it is his body that is conveying his thoughts to paper.

Maybe Nietzsche was right: maybe it's the mind that is subservient to the body.

In any event, thanks for the exchange….
Posted by Raisor 6 years ago
Chthonian,

Ya I can get behind what youre saying.

Although, Nietzsche would say that just points out how much assuming is going into D's project, that before the cogito is even posited D is making the mind body distinction. That is, he assume it is possible to question the existence of his body without also questioning the existence of his mind.
Posted by Chthonian 6 years ago
Raisor,

I was looking at the "I think, therefore I am" statement in the broader context of Cartesian duality.

Technically, taken in isolation, the "I think, therefore I am" statement only establishes the certainty that Descartes exists, or more specifically that his thinking mind exists; it's what is contemplating the doubt.

In "Discourse on Method" part IV, Descartes establishes his mind exists, which leads him to contemplate what "I" was and then concludes:

"… that I was a substance whose whole essence or nature consists only in thinking, and which, that it may exist, has need of no place, nor is dependent on any material thing; so that "I," that is to say, the mind by which I am what I am, is wholly distinct from the body, and is even more easily known that the latter, and is such, that although the latter were not, it would still continue to be all that it is"
ref: http://www.bartleby.com...

From my perspective, the statement " I think, therefore I am" is just one plank in Descartes' philosophical strategy of the ‘cogito argument' that establishing the certainty of truth through reason and logic.
Posted by Raisor 6 years ago
Chthonian,

That is not Descartes' goal with the cogito. Descartes does think there is a distinction between mind body and that arises out of his radical skepticism, but that is a conclusion of other arguments. If you read Meditations you will see that the cogito is not an attempt to reconcile the mind/body relationship, it is an attempt to ground human knowledge in certainty, or what cannot be doubted.
Posted by chit0wn 6 years ago
Raisor, you should have taken my spot in the debate.
That's what I was trying to say exactly. I have to work on my clarity.
Posted by Chthonian 6 years ago
It is my understanding that in the statement "I think, therefore I am" Descartes was trying to reconcile the mind-body relationship. Specifically, that the mind, which is non-physical can interact with the body, which is physical. One example would be a soldier going into battle. The body's instinct is to run to ensure its self-preservation, but the mind has free will to motivate the body to stay and fight. The thought is that "something" is controlling the body, which Descartes reasoned represents the "I".
Posted by Raisor 6 years ago
F-16:

The argument Con is trying to make has been put forward with slight alterations by many people, including Hume, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, and Russell.

The critique is that all the cogito establishes is that there is thinking going on, that the "I" that Descartes hopes to establish cannot be demonstrated as a result of the cogito. You need to understand that "I think, therefore I am" isnt the entirety of the cogito argument, the cogito takes place in the midst of Descartes' radical skepticism. This skepticism causes him to doubt the existence of all physical things and all minds. This leads him to try to doubt his own self, but this is not possible because in order to doubt his own mind requires that something be doubting. Descartes says that if there were some great deceiver tricking him into thinking things exist when they do not, it would be impossible for the deceiver to simply be presenting the illusion that D. exists, because in order for the deceiver to deceive D., D. must exist.

The problem is that this doesnt clearly establish that "I" exist in the traditional Western sense. "I" is a term that carries a lot of baggage, "I" is something capable of rational though that has a sense of identity and differentiates between itself and other things, etc. None of these characteristics of "I" is generated from the cogito. All the cogito establishes is that there is some thinking going on, that the thinking going on cant be doubted.

Now you might say "well what is doing this thinking?? It must be "I"!" Well there are a few problems with that. First, it could be anything doing that thinking- it could be God, it could be a collection of minds, it could be a single entity radically different from our conception of "I"- I believe Nietzsche said the conclusion of the cogito is really "It thinks" rather than "I am." Of course it might not be anything thinking at all, in Descartes radical skepticism, what makes it necessary that thought have an agent at all?
Posted by wiploc 6 years ago
I gave Pro the conduct point, but my ballet shows that I gave him the spelling/grammar point. So I'm just clarifying: I voted him the conduct point.
Posted by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 6 years ago
Raisor, how is Con making the "right argument"?
Posted by chit0wn 6 years ago
It's the same drafterman. If I prove it MAY be false, it implies it isn't a true statement.
8 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.