René was a renowned French philosopher dubbed as the creator of modernWestern philosophy. rebelled against the establishment inhis time. He not only despised the work of previous philosophers butalso distrusted his instincts. ’ Meditations on FirstPhilosophy was originally published in Latin in 1641. Subsequenttranslations were made in French and English. The treatise iscomposed of six meditations purportedly written on sixconsecutive days. In the book, first denounces belief inthings that lack certainty but then endeavors to establish what isbeyond a reasonable doubt. Perhaps the most influential aspect of’s book is the “cogito ergo sum”, the first principleof philosophy ( & Moriarty, 2008). The cogito became thecornerstone of Western philosophy due to its simple yet powerfullogic. From the first reference of the term in 1637, the cogito hasformed a foundation for gathering knowledge when juxtaposed withdoubt.
of the Cogito
"Cogito,ergo sum" is a Latin expression meaning, "I think,therefore I am." The phrase originally appeared in `earlier work titled Discourse on Method. Skepticism was afamiliar aspect of early 16th Century. Many philosophersroutinely expressed doubt in the most obvious phenomena.Nevertheless, the same philosophers claimed to have knowledge of abroad variety of subjects due to their intellect. wasdisillusioned by the unreasonable stance adopted by many of hiscontemporary philosophers. In his view, valid knowledge was primarilycharacterized by certainty. Therefore, it was impossible forphilosophers to be knowledgeable yet skeptical. From that pointforward, conducted several thought experiments designed toestablish truth from doubt.
In this regard,he used methodic doubt to isolate all facts and beliefs that couldnot be conclusively proved. The sequence of meditations helpsto establish the level of doubt in all unsubstantiated beliefs. seemed to reach the ultimate level of skepticism at theonset of the second meditation. The philosopher examined hisentire belief system after arguing about the existence of a deceivinggod. considered his existence as an absolute certainty. Hesupposes that there existed a deceptive god or an evil demon(, Ariew, & Cress, 2006). This would prove `existence since he could not be deceived if he never existed in thefirst place. He would have to live and think about his existencebefore an evil demon could deceive him (Southwell, 2008). Therefore, concludes by stating “I am, I exist.”
onlysought to prove his own existence. The cogito is only sufficient whenused from the first-person point of view. Consequently, each personneeds to think for themselves as they consider the argumentspresented in the meditations. Furthermore, does notargue for the necessity of existence. His thinking mind invokes hisexistence, not vice versa. The cogito is not fit to serve as afoundation upon which further knowledge can be amassed. However, itcan be aptly used in the restoration of discarded facts and beliefs.Scientific inquiry cannot refute the cogito and its implications.Social research and philosophical dissents also fail to discredit thecogito.
The cogito isbased on the substance-accident analogy that was popularized throughAristotelian philosophy. This analogy assumes that substances existindependently while accidents need a substance so as to occur. Forexample, a man could develop a sickness. While a man’s existence isindependent, the sickness could not materialize without the man.Similarly, states of sleep and wakefulness would also never occurwithout the man’s existence. Based on this presupposition, asserts that his doubt and his consideration of beingdeceived are all forms of valid thinking. Mental processes areconsidered as accidents rather than substances. Therefore, thinkingwould never occur independently of a person (Gaukroger, 2006). Thisproves that must exist since he can think and even doubthis existence.
Some objectionshave been proposed in opposition to the cogito. For example, a stonedoes not think and yet it still exists. This argument attempts torefute the logic that thinking automatically validates the existenceof an entity. Other objections have claimed that the use of the firstperson in the cogito is a biased rendition to the cogito (Southwell,2008). should not have invoked his involvement in thethought process.
The assertionthat a rock does not exist since it does not think is a logicalfallacy. Denying the antecedent does not invalidate the initialstatement. Furthermore, it is impossible to ascertain the fact ofthinking without having to deny other presuppositions. Therefore, thecogito remains viable. Any other objections cannot be verified withabsolute certainty.
As discussed, has had a massive impact on Western philosophy. The cogitohas been used as a cornerstone of philosophical arguments anddebates. The substance-accident debate seems to form the basis of thecogito ( & Moriarty, 2008). Thinking cannot occurindependently, yet a person is independent. Therefore, the cogitostands unrefuted as a basis for modern philosophy.
, R., Ariew, R., & Cress, D. A. (2006). Meditations,objections, and replies. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Pub.
, R. & Moriarty, M. (2008). Meditations on firstphilosophy: With selections from the Objections and replies.Oxford, Mississippi: Oxford University Press.
Gaukroger, S. (2006). The Blackwell guide to `Meditations. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub.
Southwell, G. (2008). A beginner`s guide to `sMeditations. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub., 2008.