Or How to completely miss the significance of “I think, therefore I am”
You know you exist. You just do. It doesn’t need to be proven. There is no way for someone to prove you don’t exist. You exist.
You have a sense of Agency. You can act and be aware of your actions.
You know that Sensory Data exists. You know that you can distinguish your own actions from not-self.
And that is it.
The universe works. It just does. You can’t take a piece out of the universe and explain some other piece of universe. It is just the universe pointing at itself.
You can’t ask for a warranty replacement on a burnt out piece of universe.
It doesn’t matter how you think the universe works. It does, in fact, work. Your existence is proof of the existence of the universe.
There is no degree of self scrutiny here.
You literally cannot answer what makes the universe work… It just does.
It doesn’t matter how simple or complicated you think it is. The universe works. You can’t ask “but what if it didn’t work”. It does work. The universe working is the whole purpose and point of the universe.
The foundation of whatever argument you want to make is that you exist.
You know you exist. This is the only thing you will ever be completely certain about (Solipsism).
Your existence includes everything you experience. Everything you experience exists. This (everything) is part of the only thing you will ever be completely certain about.
The universe (whatever it is) supports and allows your existence (Anthropic Principle).
The universe is not wrong. The universe is not inconsistent. The universe is not badly formed.
Anything and everything you can say regarding the universe is an actual piece of the universe. It is not possible (meaningful) to prove that some piece of the universe doesn’t work (Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem).
You know that you exist. Other people cannot do your knowing for you. You understand, you experience, you act. You are the alpha and the omega of your existence. This is the only thing you are completely certain of – but it encompasses everything that you are and everything that you experience.
This is your foundation. This is the universe you inhabit. This defines what you can know and say.
Intro Part 2
Logic is, arguably, the standard bearer of modern thought.
Logic has no place here.
You know you exist. There are no words that can prove (or disprove) your own existence to you.
This is not an argument in the classical sense.
This is a discussion on the significance of your existence.
Your existence is far more significant than… well… pretty much everything else.
Of special interest is language. Our assumptions about language impact the way we use and understand language. Changing those assumptions while using the tool (language) that is immersed in those assumptions should prove interesting.
It should be noted that everything that currently works will continue to work. We are not changing the universe, we are changing our assumptions about the universe.
Imagine riding a bike. It works. You are riding the bike. It takes you where you want to go.
Now imagine that somebody points out that the bike has gears and explains how gears work. The bike is the same. The bike always had gears, you just didn’t know what they were for or how they work.
Now you find going up hills much easier. Riding along the flats is so much faster. Understanding all the features of the bike allows you to use the bike much more efficiently.
Likewise, once we understand mathematics and physics, language and philosophy; we can use our tools much more efficiently. You may be surprised at just how much easier so many things become when not working at cross purposes.
“Cogito Ergo Sum” – René Descartes. “I think, therefore I am.”
We’re going to be expanding on the work of Descartes and Solipsism.
This section is a very brief introduction to Solipsism and a generalisation of how it is commonly interpreted (aka a straw-man).
The gist of Solipsism is that our senses can be fooled. In principle, what we sense could be distorted or changed such that we cannot ever be sure what we are sensing. There is no independent way to verify our senses other than our senses. As such we cannot know anything with complete certainty. It is always possible (however unlikely) that what we experience is something other than it seems.
The only exception is our own existence. You know you exist, as evidenced by your own thoughts. I know I exist as evidenced by my own thoughts.
The only thing you can be completely certain of is your own existence.
Unfortunately, everyone else appears to you through fallible Sensory Data. It is possible that everyone else is an illusion – that the Sensory Data creates the impression of other people without there actually being other people.
It is possible that you are the only real person; everyone else is a figment of your imagination (or something).
This is where most people stop. The idea of Solipsism (only you exist) is briefly interesting in a nihilistic fashion but not very constructive.
It is technically true that mathematical proofs aren’t actually proofs. Nothing is completely certain (beyond your own existence). However, everyone who wants to actually get something done generally ignores that tiny bit of uncertainty and accepts that the evidence of our senses is good enough most of the time.
This is standard Solipsism. You know you exist. “Cogito Ergo Sum”: “I think, therefore I am”. Your existence is self evident to you.
Despite the existence of ‘therefore’ (‘Ergo’) in the above phrase, your existence has nothing to do with logic. It is just as fair to say: “I feel I exist”. There is no need to invent a system of logic in order to realise that you exist.
Your existence is the foundation of… well… everything.
Don’t let me rail-road you into existing. Your existence doesn’t depend on anyone else telling you that you do (or don’t) exist.
You may be a little hazy on exactly what existence entails, but the actual existence part is what you are completely certain about.
Your experiences exist
Your experience includes everything you ever experience (including your experience of existence).
Your experience’s existence isn’t distinct from your existence. Your experiences and yourself are the same thing.
You wouldn’t be you if you had no experiences. Fortunately you do experience your own existence, you do know you exist, and you do know your experiences exists.
The above applies no matter how finely you categorise your experiences. You could categories experiences into thoughts, dreams, taste, touch, sight, experiences of your left leg and your right leg, experiences that you think are delusions, experiences you don’t understand, experiences you hated and experiences you loved. For all of these and every other experience of every type that you experience: they exist.
No matter what you think your experiences are, you know they exist because you are right there experiencing them.
This might be a slight hurdle (it might not – I can’t read your thoughts). The idea that, that delusions exist, that dreams exist and that their existence is inextricably a part of your own existence might be a different way of thinking about things than you are familiar with.
However, there are not, in fact, two sides to an argument here. You experience what you experience. You know you have experienced what you experience because you experienced it.