“Cogito ergo sum” is a Latin phrase translated in English as “I think, therefore I am”. The phrase was Rene Descartes’ (1596-1650) philosophical proposition of existence in that he knew he was somewhere as an entity because of his capacity to have thoughts. The proposition has been perceived by western scholars as the foundation for all knowledge because while some objects can be queried if the belong to the realm of imagination or reality, the act of doubting ones existence is proof enough of the reality of their existence (Broughton, 109). I agree with Descartes proposal based on my idea and with the help of supporting evidence that one’s mind creates a reality for him. In addition, the point of intersection between two or more people is also examined since the contradictory realities can only be argued whenever the realities of two people overlap.
In his meditation, Descartes attempts to find one certainty by doing away with all his preconceived ideas and presuppositions. By doing so he gets to build a foundation of a supernatural being from where all ideas and facts are based upon leading to stable construction of knowledge. Descartes reached his conclusion of “Cogito ergo sum” following the line of reasoning that should there be sufficient reason for one to doubt something that he initially thought to be true then it implies that all things accepted as true are subject to doubt. This includes our existence and what constitutes the universe (Broughton, 111). Descartes looked at his very own existence with skepticism and it is the same doubt about his existence that led to the conclusion that he in fact does exist. Descartes generalizations led to other philosophers questioning the premise that ones mind is a separate substance from the body and the reverse being true. They claimed that his phrase needed an extra premise in order for it to be justified. This calls for the need to explain the concept of existence as proposed by Descartes.
The concept of existence involves one being part of their own reality as participant of their life’s story as opposed to observing others. The expression “I am” therefore is proof of existence hence becoming a claim of reality. The statement “I think, therefore I am” is an affirmation that the person uttering those words exists within their own creation of reality. At this point, despite the criticism that Descartes did not justify his preposition, it is important to note that he claimed of his own existence as opposed everyone else’s. Years after Descartes proposition people had issues with it citing the violation of rules of logic. The claimed the statement was not true as it was not based on any deductions. This discussion however, maintains its stand that we can understand Descartes proposition by understanding what he meant through the context of perceptions that is used to define one’s reality (Pezely, par. 8). The subject of contextual reality therefore reveals itself in that each individual has their own realities. The different thoughts stem from different courses of actions that individuals decide to take as they lead their everyday lives. The different thoughts then lead to different perceptions that in turn yield different realities. Descartes’ proposition can therefore be explained as each individual’s capacity to experience their own realities; their own existence. Existing in your own reality is of course different from existing in the reality of another person.
Critics claim that Descartes’ proposition is proof that humanity exists. However, from the discussion it is evident that the conclusion is limited owing to the fact that there is no proof that ones body exists or anything else observed in the physical environment. Instead, Descartes’ point is the proof of the existence of the mind-that part of an individual that is able to doubt-but does not rule out the possibility of one waking up and realizing that he had been a cow dreaming to have lived a human life. According to Descartes, existence is not necessary but rather brought about by ones capacity to be able to think and tries to formulate new ideas.
It is only through intuition, social relation and instinct can one develops the concept of self and therefore become self aware. It is through the mentioned aspects can one know they exist through logical processes and engage in deep thought leading to the development of new knowledge from what we already know or development of a new idea. The concept of “I think, therefore I am” can be explained via the definition of reality or context. For a clear understanding, one must first understand reality as cognitive construction of the mind that is unique to each individual’s perception. What we accept as reality is nothing more but s series of stimuli that is fed to our minds and to end that process we must engage in thought. When dealing with different characters, there exists the possibility of mutual contradictory realities that can be clarified through negotiation.
Broughton, Janet. Descartes's Method of Doubt. Princeton [u.a.: Princeton Univ. Press, 2002. Print.
Pezely, Daniel, J. Providing Context to “Cogito, ergo sum”. A key to understanding Rene Descartes' most famous line, "I think, therefore I am" Based upon the notion that we create our own reality and the value of mutual, contradictory realities. 2004. Retrieved from http://play.org/philosophy/Cogito,%20ergo%20sum on 14/11/2013.