It is thequestion that we might never be able to solve. This makes it the question people think about most. And thus the question that I’m going to tackle here in my first post. Sumus?
With his famous words “I think, therefore I am” (Cogito Ero Sum) – and the rest of you is questionable – Descartes suggested that one does only exist when one thinks; since we cannot know whether other people think, even if they tell us or seem to do so, we can only be certain about our own existence. However, if we did believe other people to ‘be’ when they told us they were thinking, how would we define ‘thinking’ in the first place? Does it have to involve words? Might there be people solely thinking in images, sounds, or even smells? Could someone not think at all and exist anyway?
Michael Gray said that “the ability to sense proves that one exists” which must be true because we can prove senses with science. However, science comes in through senses. So in order to reasonably progress with our understanding and knowledge we first need to be certain that science is accurate and true. We can make realistic assumptions based on experiments that have consistent results and plausibly accept that senses are consequently true. Nevertheless, one can still only be a 100% sure about one’s own sense perception. Hence, existence is self-evident truth, a truth that cannot be demonstrated.
Descartes came up with the idea that a demon might control perception and give us false experiences of the world. My life and my thoughts could be stimulated by a computer, me being a character in an über-sophisticated computer game. But for which reason would a game developer let his/her character(s) feel alive? Out of curiosity?
I could be the toy of a supreme being controlling my mind and creating all my sensory experiences.
I could be the only person in a blurry sphere, a non-material nothing, hallucinating all this in order to ‘not to be alone’ or to have a sort of ‘sense’ in this emptiness. Yet, why would I then sometimes struggle in life, if I could somewhat determine everything myself, if it all was a part of my own invention? Why would I put myself in trouble every now and then? To make life more interesting?
The infinite number of theories of existence show that there is no way of knowing. Any proof has to be processed through our senses which in the end are unreliable. This can be revealed in the many ways they can be manipulated and deceived, for example by hallucinations and optical illusions. Just put one hand in cold, one in warm water and then both in water with the same temperature and you will perceive different temperatures.
We will probably never be able to know whether we really do exist or not and for that reason, there’s nothing we will ever know for certain. Everything is based on this. Our belief of existence create our world. Within our world everything is the way we ‘create’ it or ‘want it to be’, thus we know it. We decide on what is wrong and right, it is our truth. Even if I actually shouldn’t be able to say “I know that Pluto is a planet” due to the fact that I’ve never seen it before, I ‘know’ it anyway because it is what we say and know altogether.
Ultimately, every person experiences life in his/her own way. We’re all unique and this variation is what makes life so fascinating. Wouldn’t it be a little boring if we knew all the secrets of our existence and life? At least there would be a lot more unemployment due to no-need-for-research.
Even if I only existed in thought or so – I would still happily live my … even if this all is an illusion, this illusion is all I’ve got.