The Instigator
Mathgeekjoe
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
LaughItUpLydia
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

I think therefore I exist

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Post Voting Period
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It's a Tie!
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/14/2015 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,008 times Debate No: 71673
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (9)
Votes (0)

 

Mathgeekjoe

Pro

"I think therefore I exist." Con's job is to try to refute it. Pro's job is to defend it from the refutes.
LaughItUpLydia

Con

I accept. Thank you, Pro, for adapting the gist of the debate for me! Sorry for the hassle.

After laying out my contentions I will explain each one slowly so to present my case.

1st Contention: If Pro types to me "I think therefore I am" he cannot prove that this is true.
2nd Contention: "I think, therefore I am" is only applied to the individual and does not prove anything about your existence to anyone eles.
3rd Contention: When someone says they are thinking they do not know for sure what reality is and they do not know for sure that they are not being programmed to say "I think, therefore I am" by a computer.
4th Contention: Due to scientific experiments we have come up with the fact that the mind exists separate from the body. For this reason, thinking does not automatically imply that our bodies exist.

1.) Your typing that you're thinking up what you're writing does not prove anything, since you could simply be a machine or a simulation.

Do our so-called 'thoughts' alter the physical world around us? Well, this video is a bit controversial, but take a look and tell me what you evaluate of it. https://www.youtube.com... This may shake up your belief system as it is very odd.

2.) If "you," Pro, say "I think, therefore I am," and you do not prove that you are thinking to me, than I have no reason to believe that you think and no reason to believe that "you" even exist.

3.) Do you know for a fact that you are not a robot and that your life isn't already planned out and being controlled by a higher deity? If you cannot prove that, then you cannot pin down what exactly "thinking" is and what thoughts mean to our "reality."

4.) Since science and technology is quite advanced we have decided that it is fact that our thoughts can be influenced by brain damage from accidents, drugs, and disease. Therefore, and since what we our thinking is not actually proven to be 'us' thinking, this can quite change the meaning of Rene Descartes' statement "I think, so I exist."

We do not know for sure that we are not brain simulations and our whole "life" (it's not a life, it's just programs/simulations) is basically "virtual reality." Pro's job is to prove exactly what reality is.

Thank you for R1!
Debate Round No. 1
Mathgeekjoe

Pro

It is cons job to refute my existence, so con has to prove to me that I don't exist. If this debate was about me proving I exist to someone else, then I would have worded it that way.

So I immediately dismiss contention one and two. For all judging, do not hold this against con since it wasn't fully clarified. In fact that it wasn't clarified should be held against me for not fully clarifying in round one.

Now to con's contention 3. I cannot prove that my life isn't already planned for me. But I can show evidence to believe that my life isn't already planned out. Quantum mechanics make it impossible to for someone to know 100% what I am going to do so I clearly cannot be controlled by anything that isn't in control of quantum mechanic. Also any higher deity that could fully and completely control me would be some form of god. I do belong to a religion that believes in a god, but my religion belief is also that this god gave us free will, thus isn't fully controlling us. But I cannot prove that my religion is correct, and my entire belief in it is based on faith.

Now for the second part of con's contention 3. I cannot pin down exactly "thinking" is and what thoughts mean to reality.
But what is exactly thinking? Is a computer getting input of what it does, thinking or a conscience? I would say not, do to the fact there has not been evidence that computers have a conscience that works in the same way as human conscience. If I built a robot that did exactly what I was doing now, it could certainly give the output equivalent to me, but does it actually exist on the inside. If I program a robot to copyof emotions of humans, does it feel human emotions? It acts like it has emotions, it gives output as if it has emotions. But it doesn't actually have emotions, there is nothing on the inside that actually hurts or feel love. It merely does the programing that says what to do when in as state meets the conditions for programmed emotions. It doesn't have a soul so to speak. My apologies if anybody reading this is a robot, and I am wrong on the feelings and soul thing.

Now for con's contention 4. Yes our brains can be damaged by accidents, drugs, and disease, and these inhibit or alter the process of thinking. But under these conditions you can still think just not clearly, not fully, and with no recollection of it happening. There is even evidence that we think when we sleep, are in comas, and even when we are legally dead. Now do I have a actual self that isn't just the brain? Is there something that goes that can impact what I do that isn't physical? Well if this said thing, can alter the outcomes of quantum mechanics, it can impact without being physical. This thing that isn't physical could not be fully controlled by physical events since it is not physical, and as such cannot be fully controlled by chemicals or things controlling the signals themselves in the brain. So if this thing exist, I think regardless of damage, mind control, or even death.

Now you said in the end of contention 4, you said it is my job to prove exactly what reality is. This is not my job, and if it was it would be impossible for me prove. Even if I exist, I cannot be certain that anything around me exist. Everything I see or touch, is an input to my brain. Thus anything that can copy this input could make it seem like everything around me exist even if does not. So I cannot say that I am with complete certainty that I am not in a virtual reality. But I can say to myself that I exist, because I can be aware of what is happening and being aware of me being aware. So I can prove to myself that I exist, but I cannot prove to you that I exist. So this is the reason why it worded "I think therefore I exist." instead of "I can prove to you that I exist.". If it was "I can prove to you that I exist." it would be impossible for me to do that, but I could go into all the nitty gritty of why I couldn't. Since the wording of this debate is "I think, therefore I exist" con is in the impossible to do category. Probably the most important reason why con can't convince me that I don't exist is that I have beliefs that I have a soul. Since my reason for believing in a soul if based on faith, con could not convince me to question if I exist even if I did not infact exist.

So the winner of this debate is not going to be about who is right, but on who debated better.
LaughItUpLydia

Con

I completely agree that this debate will not be about who's correct but about who did a better job at debating. Thanks for clearing that up!

INTRO TO REBUTTALS

This debate is called "I think therefore I exist" because this is Pro's reasoning for his existence, and initially I thought my job is to disprove his reasoning. Evidently I am only supposed to refute his existence--this is funny yet confusing. Pro must understand that I am attempting to refute his existence by way of Rene Descartes' quote (upon which this debate is named after).

I'd rather that Pro did not dismiss my first and second contentions because they fit right along with this debate, but I will go along with how he is formatting this.

REBUTTAL 1

"Quantum mechanics make it impossible to for someone to know 100% what I am going to do so I clearly cannot be controlled by anything that isn't in control of quantum mechanic."
This is where things get tricky, if they are not already! What if I told you that your whole world is simply a figment of someone's imagination and that everything you do, think, and say are controlled by that person's mind. You are not you, rather just part of the person's brain, and "your" whole "world" has already been thought up by that Higher Deity someone. Quantum mechanics are just part of the distractions from the truth which is that you are not real. But in order for this to be true would mean that everything in your world, including me and all your friends, is part of that someone's imagination also. I am willing to believe this because there is nothing that disproves the possibility.

"Also any higher deity that could fully and completely control me would be some form of god. I do belong to a religion that believes in a god, but my religion belief is also that this god gave us free will, thus isn't fully controlling us."
Remember, Pro, that what YOU "think" you understand and believe do not actually matter when I figure whether you are real or you are existing in the brain of a higher deity. Whether you are part of a religion or not doesn't change whether a god exists and is controlling you or not.

REBUTTAL 2

"Is a computer getting input of what it does, thinking or a conscience? I would say not, do to the fact there has not been evidence that computers have a conscience that works in the same way as human conscience."
Oh, but that's what robots are. (They are computers right?) Robots "think" about what they are going to do/say next but it is all programmed. "You" could very well be a robot in a simulation, and your existence is false because your thinking is all programmed. However, a more feasible explanation would be that you are a figment of someone else's imagination and your so-called existence is all a lie due to it only being a part of that someone's brain.

REBUTTALS 3

"Yes our brains can be damaged by accidents, drugs, and disease, and these inhibit or alter the process of thinking. But under these conditions you can still think just not clearly, not fully, and with no recollection of it happening."
What if I told you your brain is a lie, and everything you believe you "think".is not actually there, just part of someone else's thought process? If that was the truth then everything you do would be false because it's not in real existence. Scratch everything I said about your brain being damaged, because if you are just part of a simulation or someone's dreams then your supposed "brain's thought process" is not real either. The point of what I had said was to demonstrate the fact that if "thinking equals existence" is true, then our thoughts may be hallucinations that are twisting the truth into something that's a lie, therefore everything we know about reality is false.

REBUTTAL 4

"There is even evidence that we think when we sleep, are in comas, and even when we are legally dead. Now do I have a actual self that isn't just the brain?"
Evidence does not matter in this context, since, after all, everything we "know" could possibly be hallucinations or made-up by someone else's imagination and lies. Our "idea" of "thinking" could easily be another detailed part of a simulation which determines that we are just parts of someone else's thoughts, but then again the concept of "thinking" could be a lie as well because everything we do is made up.

" Is there something that goes that can impact what I do that isn't physical?"
Watch the video I gave a link to in first Round and tell me what you "think." ;)

"Now you said in the end of contention 4, you said it is my job to prove exactly what reality is. This is not my job, and if it was it would be impossible for me prove."
Since you cannot know exactly what reality/existence is, your statement "I think, therefore I am," is wrong. And furthermore since you do not know the definition of existence you cannot prove to me that you or anything truly exists. However, I cannot prove directly to you that you do not exist because neither am I completely certain that you are in virtual reality. What I can do is explain how, because the brain manipulates the body and the body is what you believe exists, the brain could be "thinking" just because that's what a Higher Deity had in his dream (you are part of his dream and in his dream you were a person who was thinking). When you created this debate you were only a character in Someone else's imagination. The reason you are aware of your surroundings is because the simulation or imagination (doesn't matter which) has tricked you into believing everything is real and that you yourself are a real, physical "human being," when in fact everything you see and 'think' you feel is part of someone's dream. Once you try to explain to yourself what reality is you find yourself "thinking" about what "thinking" is, but it is actually all a section of the Person's dream. Everything you "think" of in your "life" is actually what the Person is thinking about, not you.

"Probably the most important reason why con can't convince me that I don't exist is that I have beliefs that I have a soul."
The simple explanation for your soul is that "you" don't actually have one, "you" are tricked into believing you do but instead everything you do/believe/feel is part of that Someone's imagination ("you" are inside/a character of His dream). Now that you have processed that, you are not fully certain that you really have a soul or not.

P.S. I apologize for the wide usage of quotation marks but I find it hard to write without them. I look forward to the next round!
Debate Round No. 2
Mathgeekjoe

Pro

It seems that one of cons arguments is that I am a part of my someones imagination. If that was the case, then this being that I am the imagination of would have to be think as if it was me, for me to think. Now if this being is thinking as if it was me, then my thought is in reality its thought. And if my thought is really its thought, then the claim "I think, therefore I exist" is still correct. Except I am not the one who is thinking, the one thinking is the being that I am the imagination of. So in the end "I think, therefore I exist" is correct and I exist. Except "I", is not the person I think I am, I am a being that is imagining itself as person in my situation and is imagining all of the known universe, while this imagination of me doesn't exist, the being that is doing the actual thinking does exist.

Just as a side argument of me being something's imagination. The people that I imagine don't actually think, I merely think of what they would think, they never actually have an output, I merely think of what that output would be, so any thoughts they have are really my, and the thing that actual thinks exist.

Now with your comment of me being a robot or a computer simulation. He is the reason I am not. Robots don't think, they merely give an output when given an input. Thinking or conscience isn't an output, it is process that occurs in the self and can only be witness in the self. If I was a simulation then all I will do is give an output, I personally wouldn't feel thought or have a conscience, I merely would give answers as if I did. Me having the feeling of thinking is only something I would notice, thus I can't be a simulation or a robot because they have no point to notice they are thinking, they merely need to give the output equivalent to it. Because of this difference between simulations and a being can be only noticed by the being, it is by that nature impossible to prove to someone your not a simulation or a robot. Of course this is not an issue for me in this debate, is because it is not my job to prove I exist to someone, but that I can prove to myself that I exist.

Now it seems that there is a discrepancy. You and me are both agreeing that I cannot be sure of anything I see, hear, touch, taste, and smell. So as everything I learned and understand could very well be false. This is something I don't disagree with you on. But I am for the purpose of this debate, not trying to prove that I am in reality, I am trying to prove that at least myself exist. Which even if I am not a human and do not have a brain, I can be certain I have a mind and I exist.
LaughItUpLydia

Con

I had a dream one night that showed, in detail, a creature who had wings and a beak and a beautiful swoop, and in my dream I was able to understand what it was thinking when the reality was I was controlling what 'it' was thinking. The dream developed into a story where the creature contemplated the beauty of life and what he should do next before an event when he went to a church and flew into the sanctuary, swooping above the congregation and declaring some things that he had been thinking about before the event.

Some of my dreams are detailed enough to make me wonder how on earth I thought up all those characters, while others aren't as complex yet there are characters involved that I created during my sleep. It's a mind-boggling subject, dreams are. All this to say, it is possible that you or me or all of us are just characters involved in Someone's dream. Was the creature (in my dream) real--was he in existence? No, but I made it so he was able to think and act and be.

The same applies to that of a video game. The characters in a game "think" they "exist" but they obviously do not. We could be characters in a video game and we think yet do not exist.

Pro says "The people that I imagine don't actually think, I merely think of what they would think, they never actually have an output, I merely think of what that output would be, so any thoughts they have are really my, and the thing that actual thinks exist."
This is based on matter of opinion but this is what I have been explaining all along: someone else is thinking, and we are merely their thoughts therefore we do not actually exist.

Here's the thing: you would agree with me that we don't know everything? So is the idea of us being part of virtual reality and non-existing is possible? I cannot prove to you that you are non-existing but you cannot prove to me that you ARE existing, thus we are debating whether the statement "I think, therefore I am," is possible, correct?

Because we don't know the possibilities of virtual reality, we must admit that it is possible that there could very well be such a thing as a universe of must more intelligent people/characters looking down at us. Characters can do things such as think for themselves and do things yet are only on a screen...characters in virtual reality do not exist!

We cannot be certain we have a body that exists because we could be simulations only "thinking" we are experiencing the things we do. http://www.crystalinks.com... We are not definitely sure about anything about existence.
Debate Round No. 3
Mathgeekjoe

Pro

Seems like this is the last round. I regret not making it slightly longer. Of course that wouldn't have been necessary if I would have clarified better. But hindsight is 20/20.

Now to prove "The people that I imagine don't actually think, I merely think of what they would think, they never actually have an output, I merely think of what that output would be, so any thoughts they have are really my, and the thing that actual thinks exist." isn't an opinion but an observation, I am going to give examples from my imagination. Now it is impossible to explain the background of the imaginary universe I have made in my head in 9000 characters. Plus it would be irrelevant for me to explain it for the purpose of this debate.

So one person I have imagined in the universe I made up in my head, is Peter Forest. I know he doesn't think because when ever he makes a decision, thought, or statement, it is because I thought he would make that decision, thought, or statement. If I didn't think about what he would do, he merely wouldn't do anything. Anything he does is nothing but a thought in my mind. Since he is comprised of nothing but my thoughts, then he doesn't actually think. What would you claim he thinks, is nothing but my thoughts about what he would think. Since Peter Forest technically doesn't have any thoughts, he doesn't exist.

Now with your comment on characters in a show or game, their supposed thoughts are nothing but their creator's thoughts about them. They cannot think that they exist, since if a character says the statement "I think therefore I exist." they really didn't think of it or say it. What really happens is that their creator thinks that the character they have made up would say this. Anything the character does is really somebody thinking about what would they do.

Now you have a claim that we are are not definitely sure about anything about existence. This claim is only half true. We cannot be sure what other than ourself exist. We cannot be sure how we exist. But we are sure that we exist.

Now I am going to ask a question. If I built a robot that would copy your actions and responses, does it actually feel what you do? Instead of actually being sad or happy it is merely copying what actions you are doing. It doesn't consider what pain or happiness is, it just merely takes it as an input, and gives an output, no thoughts, no emotions. Now just to hammer in my point, I am going to give another example. What if a robot needed you to think it feels sad so it could get you to tell it classified information (lets assume you have classified information about top secret research project). The robots is knows how to copy the actions a person does when it is sad. The robot itself isn't actually sad, it is merely pretending or acting like it is. Does this robot actually have the emotion of sadness?

Now I want to pose the question. If I don't exist, how would I be able to think about me not existing? Your response is likely going to be that I am simulation and I was programmed to. But If I was a simulation, would I actually think about me not existing, or merely calculate what would be the output of this thought if it was real.

So I conclude, "I think therefore, I am"
Thank you for this debate.
LaughItUpLydia

Con

I have the honors of closing off this debate, but many thanks to Pro for instigating this intriguing topic of mystery and knowledge! We've delved deep into the thinking process--that is, if we are thinking, or if we're just programmed to this odd state of "mind" which we'll never discover in our life times--and it has been difficult, in a way, but I am very happy I was a part of it.

Here's the thing: Pro refuted one of my initial proposals that we cannot be a figment of someone's imagination. However, that is not the only argument I proposed, as my only job in this debate is to disprove the statement "I think, therefore I am." It was (obviously) Pro's job to prove that he thinks, therefore he exists.

Because we are nowhere near to knowing everything that is available for action so we cannot assume what a futuristic, higher-technological world could be, it is quite possible that "we" are inside simulations which are actually just minds which simulates everything we call existence. Pro might say "even if we are in a simulation we are still thinking and/or existing," but since we do not know the possibilities of science from a more advanced platform we don't know what is, in fact, attainable. As I have explained before, our knowledge cannot compete with the potential of science. It is possible that there is another "world" of creatures, futuristic in our terms, and they are staring down at us and controlling us (they are probably amused if this possibility is true). This applies to us thinking because, if we are being controlled--in a simulation, more specifically--then we are not actually thinking, but the technology from the cutting edge world in which we do not know explains how we are being simulated in a virtual reality yet not existing in REAL LIFE. This is a proposition but it would explain how the saying "I think therefore I am" is not always correct.

Rebuttals

"Since Peter Forest technically doesn't have any thoughts, he doesn't exist."
You have disproven my proposition concerning being part of Someone's imagination. I congratulate you. :)

"They cannot think that they exist, since if a character says the statement "I think therefore I exist.""
If a character is programmed to say "I think therefore I exist" then no, he is not thinking, but he says so yet does not exist. Basically, Rene Descartes' saying means that existing is thinking. What he should have said was "I think therefore there's thinking."

"Now you have a claim that we are are not definitely sure about anything about existence. This claim is only half true."

Yes but 'definitely' is either FOR SURE or NOT for sure. It can't be half true.

"We cannot be sure how we exist. But we are sure that we exist."

Is this correct? How does Pro know? It is not definitely correct unless Pro can back up the claim.

"If I built a robot that would copy your actions and responses, does it actually feel what you do?"

That is not the point. The robot says it is thinking but that does not mean anything. We do not know if it really is because we do not have a precise definition for 'thought.' And I am not debating against the idea that a robot "thinks therefore exists," but more along the lines of a virtual character that says he thinks, which is what we could be.

"If I don't exist, how would I be able to think about me not existing? But If I was a simulation, would I actually think about me not existing, or merely calculate what would be the output of this thought if it was real."

We do not know the full potential or practicable science that might be involved in the "minds" behind the simulations of "us," so I cannot answer that. All I know is that it is a possibility and thus the saying is proven wrong. I cannot prove that Pro personally "does not exist" but I can state what is or may be prospective/probable.

Concluding Arguments



In a sense thoughts think themselves. It is actually more complicated than that: They are dependently-originated. What's that? Dependent Origination is a teaching so subtle that the Buddha declared that it was on account of not seeing, not penetrating this teaching that both he and we had wandered on in this round of suffering.

Thinking is no escape. It leads to logical dead ends and fundamental assumptions. What if I were to let go of thinking and just being?
Thank you for debating!
Debate Round No. 4
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by Mathgeekjoe 1 year ago
Mathgeekjoe
Well this was a brain hurting debate, sooo much thinking.

I kind of find it funny I was in a debate that forced me to ask the question "Do I exist" while in another debate trying to say it is better to exist than not exist. Worse part about it is that my opposition in the other debate was basically saying that humans should choose to go extinct.

So basically I was in one debate defending humanity, while I am in another that I am force to question my existence.

Lol, probably not the best person to defend the human race.

The other debate is at http://www.debate.org...
Posted by LaughItUpLydia 1 year ago
LaughItUpLydia
It is definitely not bad that an 18 yo still has an imagination. It helps you, actually, in this debate.
Posted by Mathgeekjoe 1 year ago
Mathgeekjoe
"Just as a side argument of me being something's imagination. The people that I imagine don't actually think, I merely think of what they would think, they never actually have an output, I merely think of what that output would be, so any thoughts they have are really my, and the thing that actual thinks exist."

Is it bad that a 18 year old still has an imagination?
Posted by LaughItUpLydia 1 year ago
LaughItUpLydia
This has been rather mind boggling to be honest, but none the less very interesting! Thank you Mathgeekjoe for debating me on this unique topic!
Posted by LaughItUpLydia 1 year ago
LaughItUpLydia
You are forgiven. :D
Posted by Mathgeekjoe 1 year ago
Mathgeekjoe
Sorry for not clarifying better. My falt.
Posted by LaughItUpLydia 1 year ago
LaughItUpLydia
Yeah, sorry about that. It must've taken a long time to write all that. :0
Posted by Mathgeekjoe 1 year ago
Mathgeekjoe
I changed the debate. Unfortunately this means that everything I wrote last night had to be deleted.
Posted by LaughItUpLydia 1 year ago
LaughItUpLydia
Could you change it to a debate about the statement "I think, therefore I am"? I will attempt to refute it.
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