In this paper, I will deliver a reconstruction of Descartes’ Cogito Argument and my reasoning to validate it as indubitable. I will do so by justifying my interpretations through valid arguments and claim, by showcasing examples with reasoning.Rene Descartes is a French Philosopher of the 17th century, who formulated the philosophical Cogito argument by the name of ‘cogito ergo sum,’ also known as “I think, therefore, I am.” Rene was a skeptic philosopher amongst many scholastic philosophers at his time. He took a skeptical approach towards the relations between thoughts and existence, to interpret his cogito argument as indubitable and whether it could serve as a foundational belief. Rene Descartes statement, “I think, therefore, I am” laid the foundation for his Cogito Argument in the Mediations.
Throughout his groundwork we come to interpret that “I think, whatever thinks, must exists, so I exist, and whatever exists is a thing, so I exist as a thinking thing”, and so he knew this with certainty. In the mediator’s search for certainty, Descartes had to disregard anything that was doubtful or wrong. He chose to lay a new canvas and threw away all his previous knowledge and understanding to start anew.
And so, from here, Descartes searched for facts he knew with certainty. In order for his opinions and knowledge not to interfere with his perception, he chose to doubt everything. And so, he even chose to doubt the existence of the physical body and continued to stay skeptical and doubtful of his learnings.
There must be a thinking thing that is being doubtful, and from this he concluded that although he is uncertain if his physical body exists, he is indeed certain that he does exist, and that this statement could not be doubted. Descartes radical doubt lead him to examine the rationality to what we think is certain. A lot for our knowledge is attainted through our senses, but Descartes argues that anything learned through our senses can easily be doubted and deceived. But what is known with certainty through Descartes work is that we are not dependent on our senses for clarity, but our mentality through our mind. Because when we are dreaming just like reality we are using our senses to smell, see, hear, and touch, just as if we were awake. But how can I know with certainty that I am indeed sitting in a library, writing this essay and not in a false reality of a dream where my knowledge is also being acquired through my senses and not my mind. And so, this is all called to doubt through the argument of dreaming.Throughout his analysis Descartes came to acquire the reality that we are not dependent on our senses, but our mind.
Using his concept of ourself as thinking thing, he demonstrates this concept through his example of a melting piece of candle. Descartes argues that we believe we know the best of material things surrounding us through sense perception. He argues that the best we know is through sense perception, by looking through the mind’s eye. An example he portrays is a piece of wax.
The wax retains the scent of flowers, it’s residual taste, colour, shape and size and even the hard and cold texture that can be handled without difficulty, through the knuckles making a sound. In short, it contains everything for the body to distinguish it as possible. But, if we put the wax by the fire, it’s taste disappears, smell goes away, the color changes, the shape is lost, it becomes bigger in size and liquid and hot. You can no longer touch it and it no longer makes sound. The same wax remains but the senses that derived it to be the wax we can distinguish, has now altered yet the wax remains. So, the knowledge of this wax is not about its sensory attributes but its nature as an changeable, extendible, flexible material thing, fundamentally more than just it’s sensory appearance.
The nature of this wax is not revealed by imagination but perceived by the mind alone, and we can distinguish this throughout our intellect.Descartes even goes as far as radical skepticism, to decipher that this could all be the result of an evil devil trying to input false beliefs into his head and deceiving him through a fabrication of his world. For how he can be certain that 2+2= 4 and not 5, how can he know for sure that he is not being deceived into believing the answer to be 5 due to a demon. But even if an evil demon did indeed exist, in order to be misled, Descartes himself must exist. As there must be an “I”, that can be deceived.Conclusively, upon Descartes’ interpretations we can come to decipher that in order for someone to exist they must indeed be able to think, to exist as a thinking thing.
Through our understanding we can come to learn that the existence of conscious self is not enough to support the claim of a thinking thing, and that he solely exists on the basis of thinking and being a thing being. And so the mediators claim that ” I exist as a thinking thing,” is correct as it can be supported with evidence throughout our analysis.