Cogito Ergo Sum

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"I think, therefore I am," the epitome of Rene Descartes' logic. Descartes came to the understanding that there was little he actually knew because he felt unclear about some things, besides the subject of mathematics, in which he felt was clear and distinct. For him to truly have knowledge he would have to toss out all prior knowledge and start anew with a better foundation of self.

The main foundation of his education was from the senses or through the senses. (D 60) Descartes proves that the senses can not be trusted, therefore they can not be the foundation of his knowledge. The perception of things through our senses can be deceiving. Take his example of the wax for instance. At one point his sensory perception of the wax is its color, scent, sound, texture, and etc. However when the wax is brought close to a flame its color, scent, sound, texture, and all the properties of the wax will change. Nevertheless, it is evident that the “object”, that has been brought next to the flame is still the same wax that was once away from the flame. Our senses would not have been able to identify the hard wax and the melted wax as the same object. The senses would classify the solid wax as one object and the melted wax as another object. “I do not grasp what this wax is through the imagination; rather, I perceive it through the mind alone.” (D 68) By using wax as an example it is clear that the perception of objects is not sensory, but it is an inspection done by the mind. We use our senses to obtain perceptions and those perceptions are inspected by the mind turning them into judgments. Those judgments are where we get our knowledge of self. With the question what am I? The mind already knows and tells you that you are a “thinking thing”.

Knowing that the senses can not be trusted, the knowledge obtained from senses which was the keystone to the foundation of knowledge is now the least important aspect of thinking about self. The elimination of what...
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