Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I Nap, Therefore I Am

The French philosopher Rene Descartes is perhaps best known for his statement "Cogito ergo sum", or "I think, therefore I am." This was the foundation of his philosophical system and it had a significant impact on Western philosophy. While others may find great profundity in the statement, I am troubled by it.

Descartes claimed that the fact he could ponder his own existence was evidence of his own existence. But what about all of the other things in the world? Did he doubt their existence? According to my rather limited knowledge of Descartes, he began his "meditations" by doubting all of existence. Upon "proving" his own existence, did he then conclude that other things exist as well? And if so, on what basis? Philosophical cats want to know these things.

It seems to me that I could just as easily "prove" my own existence by declaring "I nap, therefore I am." Since I am cognizant of the fact that sometimes I am awake and sometimes I am asleep, I am aware of an activity. And for there to be an activity, there must be something engaging in it.

The fact is, I can observe things--like birds, squirrels, and my food bowl. My eyes do not delude me, filling my head with fantasies. And if I can ever get my mouth on one of those juicy squirrels, I will prove it so convincingly that even Descartes could not doubt it.

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