Existential Angst

My blog is to honor my father and children that have passed away as I search for meaning in their loss.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

I Think Therefore I Am

Why do I think I exist? It seems like a simple question but when I reflect on “I think therefore I am”, I’m lead to ponder the subjective side of that equation. “I think” is an action my brain performs. I have written programs that “think” about what a user might want but we wouldn’t attribute an individual identity to the program. Just because I have a natural ability to think doesn’t make my existence possible.

What if I said “I remember my Self, therefore I am.” Is it that we remember who we are and continue our existence from the same reference point, the Self, that makes us exist? There are huge ramifications from this if it is true. If I am only be because I was me a moment ago, that means if I change something about myself in the now, in the future I will not be who I was. In a way this is an old story, person is poor but honest gets a lot of money. The money changes the person until all of their old friends don’t like them any more. Person realizes they have changed and leaves the money to go back to the friends. There are even more archetypal stories that suggest that we can change who we are.

It also means Alzheimer’s victims are literally robbed of who they are. Their existence is wiped way. This is where my corollary starts to fall apart. My grandfather had Alzheimer’s disease, and though he forgot who he was, I knew him well. His existence didn’t die with him or from the disease because I remembered it.

I’m not sure what this all means, but I am beginning to see that existence is a shared phenomenon between the world and myself. I exist because the world exists and we remember each other. So long as we remember, we can’t die.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just chanced on your blog by accident. I found it very moving. I do think you are onto something, please keep going with your line of mental investigation!

I am currently reading a lot of work by C.G.Jung - in particular on synchronicity - maybe I was meant to read your comments? Who knows?

Anyhow, you will be just fine - I wish you well but you and I both know you don't need any encouragement. I mean, in a way, you're already there. Sending love your way.

Thank you. My anonymity changes nothing. Think about it.

7/30/2005 05:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

good to know theres people going through the same introspective philosophising and questioning :)

lots of luck on your journey :) hope you find lasting (well earned) peace in this lifetime.

have a nice day
-Dan

8/03/2005 07:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You begin by questioning purpose for existence, and then move away from it to the classic question of epistemology.

Could it be you shifted because the question of "why" is more difficult and unsettling than "what?"

The question of "do I exist?" while a classic exercise in philosophical thought, nevertheless misses the point and takes energy away from the more important and pressing question of "why do I exist?" Spending precious time pondering the obvious takes time away investing oursleves into the things that answer the question of "why."

8/12/2005 05:45:00 AM  
Blogger All_Bre said...

That is a very good point. I'm currently thinking about 'the why' of existance but first I think I need to understand the 'the what' of existance. If I can understand its nature, I might find it's purpose.

For instance, if I want to understand why we have cars, it would be worth the time to understand what it does well and what it does poorly.

I think if you read my 'Dreaming Mind' post you'll see that my current investigation of the nature of life is leading me to an understanding of the purpose of life. Once I feel confident that I know the nature of what "life" means, I think the answer to its purpose will be much more clear.

8/12/2005 06:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Z Young said...

It still is very possible that all of it exists in an individuals mind. Maybe people we know actually exist, or maybe they do not. There is never a way to really know. Friends, relatives, acquaintences, they are all the same. Maybe physicaly real, maybe in our minds. You have to wonder if you are only a thought in the universe presented by God and everything, including what you are reading, is only put before you for yourself. No person could ever know that they are not alone in this world. There is always the possibilty that none of this is real. I know it is very difficult to imagine that your mother never really existed, or that your computer never did, but it is very possible because maybe we do not exist. This thought is very similar to the thought of space being never ending. What is out there? Where does it end? Can it be true? WHO is in control of all of it, and how did it start. Can you be certain that you exist when you do not even know how you could exist?

8/23/2005 08:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, to understand Descartes's quote you can propose the thought experiment that was written in the same book as the quote, "I think; therefore, I am." What if there exists an evil force that deceives me to believe I exist, when I in fact do not? When you are posing the question you are in the act of doubting your existence. The act of doubting is the evidence that you exist. I cannot doubt that I can doubt or I have the ability to doubt. When I doubt that my existence, the act of doubting is a confirmation for my existence. Hope this helps.

9/13/2007 06:25:00 AM  

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