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How do You Know You Exist (if You Do) - Essay Example

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How do You Know You Exist (if You Do)

The idea of existence is therefore one which is complete truth and is not questioned with the skepticism of one not existing. Conviction of Existence The first concept that Descarte’s points out is that one exists only because they believe they exist. He states: “But I have convinced myself that there is absolutely nothing in the world, no sky, no earth, no mind, no bodies. Does it not follow that I, too, do not exist? No. If I convinced myself of something [or thought anything at all], than I certainly existed” (Descartes, 1984: 16). The main point that Descartes shows is based first on the assumption that the physical does not truly exist. Instead, the things which are seen are from the mind. The existence that one creates is also from the mind and alters according to one’s perception as opposed to true existence. The idea of existence therefore comes from the thought that one exists and is convinced that they are real, as opposed to being a figment of one’s imagination. This particular concept is further pointed out by Descartes with the belief that one is only able to exist because this is what they perceive. If one no longer believes that they exist, then they are unable to truly create an existence and will believe they are wrong in defining their own ability to live and exist. Even though there is truth that one exists to their own perception, this limits and causes questions relating to existence. If one only exists in the mind, then it causes invalidation that existence also is created externally. There is a perception of a physical reality which one experiences on a daily basis. There is also the experience of relationships to others, beliefs which are created and knowledge that is established while one is in existence. If one did not exist, then there would have to be millions of people that would have to discount events happening at the same time within a physical reality. For instance, if there are hundreds of students at a library and someone comes in shouting, each individual would have to state that this environment and physical reality were not real. The shouting and being in the reality was a perception of existence that one believed in and didn’t happen. However, there is a physical reality, response to the senses and relationships that show that this existence did really happen. This justifies that each individual exists in a physical reality outside of the mind. The perception of how one exists comes from belief; however, there is physical proof as well as thought processes that justify that each individual truly exists. The Instantiation Principle The concept of existence in reality and the physical mind is further questioned with Descarte’s belief in the instantiation principle. In this particular principle, there is the understanding that the individual only exists from the first person point of view. This is based on self – evidence which is created from the belief that one exists. When one thinks he exists, then he has to exist because his mental state creates this belief system. However, the belief is only to justify existence and doesn’t necessarily create a sense of justification. One is only able to state they exist through personal belief. There is no direct relation to one existing through science, math or self – evidence which is made apparent through different ideologies. The thought then becomes the only existence while all else is only a reflection ...Show more


6 pages – 1 source – Harvard Introduction The question of whether we truly exist is one which has led to philosophies that ponder the ideology of how much one exists, if they do. The concept of “I think therefore I am” from the Cogito by Descarte’s is one of the leading philosophies that questions our existence…
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How do You Know You Exist (if You Do)
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