Presentation Title

Are We the Thinkers of our Thoughts?

Faculty Mentor

Pete Murray, Michael Hanson

Start Date

17-11-2018 9:00 AM

End Date

17-11-2018 9:15 AM

Location

C308

Session

Oral 1

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Subject Area

humanities_letters

Abstract

In this paper, I argue Rene Descartes’s Cogito fails to take Cartesian skepticism far enough, and I seek to understand the implications of the alternative argument, I observe thus I exist. Critics of Descartes including Georg Lichtenberg, Immanuel Kant, and Bertrand Russell, have argued Descartes’s truth, “I think therefore I am,” begs the question and the only concept that can be stated is that thoughts exist. Nevertheless, an “I” can be derived from this line of logical reasoning; if we are aware that thoughts exist, there then must be some point of reference from which those thoughts are being observed.

The “I” that is proven here, however, is not the clear unified distinct “I” of the Cogito. This can be demonstrated by an update to Descartes’s Evil Genius thought-experiment supported by the psychoanalysis of Jacques Lacan and his claim that the Freudian ego is not a distinct autonomous decision-maker, but to a large extent the object of shattered subconscious. The update to the “Evil Genius” thought-experiment is to consider a hypothetical five-dimensional movie where technology reaches where in addition to the protagonist’s sensations being felt the audience is placed as the observer of the thoughts within the protagonist’s mind. Nevertheless, there must be some point of reference for the audience observing the film we can call “I.”

The creation of the statement "I observe thus I exist" derived from this indicates a layer of consciousness that has undergone a sort of Lacanian mirror-stage and is aware of the thoughts within the mind, and consequently, can derive models from pattern recognition with predictive capability on future observed thoughts. This demonstrates that Cartesian dualism is not sufficiently ontologically complex and sets up a framework for philosophical thought within the three distinct disciplines of philosophy: epistemology, value theory, and metaphysics.

Summary of research results to be presented

In examining questions of philosophical doubt and critiques of the Cogito argument I have found the correct deduction from cartesian skepticism is "I observe thus I exist" as opposed to Descartes’s "I think therefore I am." In my presentation, I will set up the Cogito through the evil genius thought experiment and explain the significance of it on modern philosophy and its creation of dualism. Then I will dive into the critiques that have been wagered against Descartes by Bertrand Russell and Immanuel Kant and explain how that even from Russell's conclusion that "thoughts exist" an I can be discovered, for if thoughts exist there must be some point of reference that is observing them. Through my updated version of the evil genius thought experiment (a five-dimensional movie where you feel the thoughts of the protagonist) and the Psychoanalysis of Jacques Lacan's shattered subject, I will argue that this "I" is not the same distinct unified "I" of the cogito. However, from the statement "I observe thus I exist" being created it can be noted that some layer of thought is aware of the others layers and consequently, it can create models with predictive capability through pattern recognition. I will conclude with the possible ramifications of the findings on the rationalist versus empiricist and analytic versus continental philosophy debates and how "I observe thus I exist" can serve as a basis for philosophical thought within epistemology, metaphysics, and value theory.

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Nov 17th, 9:00 AM Nov 17th, 9:15 AM

Are We the Thinkers of our Thoughts?

C308

In this paper, I argue Rene Descartes’s Cogito fails to take Cartesian skepticism far enough, and I seek to understand the implications of the alternative argument, I observe thus I exist. Critics of Descartes including Georg Lichtenberg, Immanuel Kant, and Bertrand Russell, have argued Descartes’s truth, “I think therefore I am,” begs the question and the only concept that can be stated is that thoughts exist. Nevertheless, an “I” can be derived from this line of logical reasoning; if we are aware that thoughts exist, there then must be some point of reference from which those thoughts are being observed.

The “I” that is proven here, however, is not the clear unified distinct “I” of the Cogito. This can be demonstrated by an update to Descartes’s Evil Genius thought-experiment supported by the psychoanalysis of Jacques Lacan and his claim that the Freudian ego is not a distinct autonomous decision-maker, but to a large extent the object of shattered subconscious. The update to the “Evil Genius” thought-experiment is to consider a hypothetical five-dimensional movie where technology reaches where in addition to the protagonist’s sensations being felt the audience is placed as the observer of the thoughts within the protagonist’s mind. Nevertheless, there must be some point of reference for the audience observing the film we can call “I.”

The creation of the statement "I observe thus I exist" derived from this indicates a layer of consciousness that has undergone a sort of Lacanian mirror-stage and is aware of the thoughts within the mind, and consequently, can derive models from pattern recognition with predictive capability on future observed thoughts. This demonstrates that Cartesian dualism is not sufficiently ontologically complex and sets up a framework for philosophical thought within the three distinct disciplines of philosophy: epistemology, value theory, and metaphysics.