# Thread: I think therefore I am?

1. Originally Posted by ygolo
So when we are considering proofs, or in a state when we are making formal statements, are we to ignore all the times we are not making formal statements?
No. Again, no. I already said that this does not ignore the times when we are not conscious.

This seems like an odd and limited way to make proofs, and is certainly not the way it is done in Mathematics (even when Descartes was alive).
Making proofs is inseparable from consciousness. Otherwise we'd be asking Descartes himself for his opinion.

I just want to narrow down on where the disagreement is:
Which of the statements do you believe to be true:
1. "Being implies thinking." False
2. "My existence implies my thinking." False
3. "I cannot exist without thinking." False
4. "I cannot be when I am not thinking". False
5. "If I am not thinking, I am not." False
6. "If I am, I am thinking." False, by logical syntax. True in an intuitive meta sense.
7. "I am, therefore I am thinking." False, by logical syntax. True in an intuitive meta sense.
8. "I am, therefore I think." False, by logical syntax. True in an intuitive meta sense.
9. "Existence implies the ability to think." False

2. Originally Posted by sprinkles
No. Again, no. I already said that this does not ignore the times when we are not conscious.
I apologize if it seems like I am repeating the same things. I am just having a hard time seeing how you can continue to believe that "I am, therefore I think" is true.

If you look at the fact that you now say even the original statement that we were disagreeing about is "false by logical syntax", you can perhaps appreciate why I have a hard time accepting what you are saying.

Originally Posted by sprinkles
Making proofs is inseparable from consciousness. Otherwise we'd be asking Descartes himself for his opinion.
I don't see how this can be true.
Consciousness does not require creating proofs. There are many conscious activities that are not the act of making proofs.
Making proofs does not require consciousness. We have computers that can prove theorems.

Originally Posted by sprinkles
"If I am, I am thinking." False, by logical syntax. True in an intuitive meta sense.
"I am, therefore I am thinking." False, by logical syntax. True in an intuitive meta sense.
"I am, therefore I think." False, by logical syntax. True in an intuitive meta sense.
It is interesting that you are saying this stuff is false, by "logical syntax" now, but true in an "intuitive meta sense."

But still say:
Originally Posted by sprinkles
"If I am not thinking, I am not." False
I am curious as to what you answer to the following would be:
http://www.skepdic.com/refuge/ctlessons/lesson3.html
Four cards are presented: A, B, 4, and 7. There is a letter on one side of each card and a number on the other side. Which card(s) must you turn over to determine whether the following statement is false? "If a card has a vowel on one side, then it has an even number on the other side."
As far as the intuitive meta sense, this is one of the things I believe has profound importance. I believe the statements to be false even in an "intuitive meta sense." The unfortunate thing about proofs and logic are that, where they work, and give us results that we don't like, we either need to find the error in logic, or accept the results.

3. Originally Posted by ygolo
I apologize if it seems like I am repeating the same things. I am just having a hard time seeing how you can continue to believe that "I am, therefore I think" is true.
Metacognition. I am metacognitively thinking about myself thinking about 'I think, therefore I am' therefore I am thinking, and therefore I am.

If you look at the fact that you now say even the original statement that we were disagreeing about is "false by logical syntax", you can perhaps appreciate why I have a hard time accepting what you are saying.
I can accept it, I agree that it is logically false.

I don't see how this can be true.
Consciousness does not require the creating proofs. There are many conscious activities that are not the act of making proofs.
Making proofs does not require consciousness. We have computers that can prove theorems.
Computers can help prove theorems, but do they make theorems?

It is interesting that you are saying this stuff is false, by "logical syntax" now, but true in an "intuitive meta sense."

But still say:

I am curious as to what you answer to the following would be:
http://www.skepdic.com/refuge/ctlessons/lesson3.html

As far as the intuitive meta sense, this is one of the things I believe has profound importance. I believe the statements to be false even in an "intuitive meta sense." The unfortunate thing about proofs and logic are that, where they work, and give us results that we don't like, we either need to find the error in logic, or accept the results.
I had to think about this for a moment. My first instinct was that you could turn over any of them and arrive at a conclusion deductively, but then I realized that the question is very specifically worded - it doesn't preclude a consonant from also having an even number, it's only looking at vowels.

So you'd turn over A and 7. If you turn over 4 instead it still might be a consonant which won't actually tell you anything.

4. Originally Posted by sprinkles
Metacognition. I am metacognitively thinking about myself thinking about 'I think, therefore I am' therefore I am thinking, and therefore I am.
I like to think about thinking. As far as what you stated here, I see no issues. It is when people start flipping the antecedent and consequent that I see issues.

Originally Posted by sprinkles
I can accept it, I agree that it is logically false.
It is logically false, but true in some other sense? There are a great many things we just cannot apply logic to, but where we can, I find it to be a very faithful indicator of truth.

Originally Posted by sprinkles
Computers can help prove theorems, but do they make theorems?
They can. How important those theorems are is another matter entirely.

Originally Posted by sprinkles
I had to think about this for a moment. My first instinct was that you could turn over any of them and arrive at a conclusion deductively, but then I realized that the question is very specifically worded - it doesn't preclude a consonant from also having an even number, it's only looking at vowels.

So you'd turn over A and 7. If you turn over 4 instead it still might be a consonant which won't actually tell you anything.
I used to give a similar question on interviews to test critical thinking skills. I thought this particular wording was rather straightforward. I purposefully obfuscated the question on the interview to see how people would handle reading things and picking out the essential points (like what they might have to do when reading a specification).

It is an interesting phenomenon, but only a small percentage of the people asked got this (and usually it was right away), and they also tended to do better on actual programming problems (revering a link list, etc.).

"Vowels have even numbers on the back" may seem like an odd statement, but we need to realize that all statements are like this.

Some may just be in more familiar territory, like "To drink legally, you need to be 21 or above." But when we approach something that is brand new, complicated, or abstract, then our collective instincts are as poor about this as they are on vowels and numbers printed on cards.

5. ygolo, you definitely misunderstand your audience. I've spent plenty of time in my own head, so much so that I can tell when I see a like-minded person outside of my own head. This forum is rife with them, as the topics discussed here are existential. Absolute dependency on relativism is based on a misunderstanding of this line of thought.

I does not refer to a personal identity. It refers to a thinking entity, which confirms existence prior to any deduction made. Existence, in a general sense: a platform for thought. Anyway, I'm not a logician, even though you've told me I approach problems in a "Ti" kind of way. So, you guys can have at it. I'd rather apply my definition for I to elaborate on, rather than assuming someone is using one concept or another. I think that's a sign of a true thinker: honestly using our personal dialects to establish understanding.

Well, we typically refer to those as unconscious because they're not present in their vehicular bodies as we would normally anticipate. If someone is no longer conscious at all? They don't exist. But I don't believe consciousness ceases to exist.

6. Originally Posted by ygolo
It is logically false, but true in some other sense? There are a great many things we just cannot apply logic to, but where we can, I find it to be a very faithful indicator of truth.
Well yes. Logic tends to be rather sterilized and separate from the world, relying on abstract syntax.

This is why some people have reduced "I think, therefore I am." down to merely "I think."

If thinking concludes with being because one must be to think, then, in the moment when you are considering this equation, you must be there to do the thinking. Existing doesn't imply thinking, but thinking about existing implies existing because thinking implies existing.

Therefore I conclude that formulating the equation implies existence. Not in the sense of "I am, therefore I think." but in the sense of "subject x predicate"

They can. How important those theorems are is another matter entirely.
Ok, I'll have to concede because I don't know about it.

I used to give a similar question on interviews to test critical thinking skills. I thought this particular wording was rather straightforward. I purposefully obfuscated the question on the interview to see how people would handle reading things and picking out the essential points (like what they might have to do when reading a specification).

It is an interesting phenomenon, but only a small percentage of the people asked got this (and usually it was right away), and they also tended to do better on actual programming problems (revering a link list, etc.).

"Vowels have even numbers on the back" may seem like an odd statement, but we need to realize that all statements are like this.

Some may just be in more familiar territory, like "To drink legally, you need to be 21 or above." But when we approach something that is brand new, complicated, or abstract, then our collective instincts are as poor about this as they are on vowels and numbers printed on cards.
Indeed. In fact I had to give myself pause to realize that you still have to turn over two cards. If you only turn over the A it might be even, but that doesn't give you a conclusion as to the rule. If you get lucky it might be odd right away which would break the rule but there's a chance of that not happening.

7. Originally Posted by Ginkgo
ygolo, you definitely misunderstand your audience. I've spent plenty of time in my own head, so much so that I can tell when I see a like-minded person outside of my own head. This forum is rife with them, as the topics discussed here are existential. Absolute dependency on relativism is based on a misunderstanding of this line of thought.
Can you elaborate on this?

Originally Posted by Ginkgo
I does not refer to a personal identity. It refers to a thinking entity, which confirms existence prior to any deduction made. Existence, in a general sense: a platform for thought. Anyway, I'm not a logician, even though you've told me I approach problems in a "Ti" kind of way. So, you guys can have at it. I'd rather apply my definition for I to elaborate on, rather than assuming someone is using one concept or another. I think that's a sign of a true thinker: honestly using our personal dialects to establish understanding.
"I am thinking, therefore I am thinking" is a tautology. "I am a thinking being, therefore I think" is almost as obvious. "I am, therefore I think" requires a special interpretation at the very least.

Originally Posted by Ginkgo
Well, we typically refer to those as unconscious because they're not present in their vehicular bodies as we would normally anticipate. If someone is no longer conscious at all? They don't exist. But I don't believe consciousness ceases to exist.
Interesting. So you would say that 3 through 8 are true?

1. "Being implies thinking."
2. "My existence implies my thinking."
3. "I cannot exist without thinking."
4. "I cannot be when I am not thinking".
5. "If I am not thinking, I am not."
6. "If I am, I am thinking."
7. "I am, therefore I am thinking."
8. "I am, therefore I think."
9. "Existence implies the ability to think."

Originally Posted by sprinkles
Well yes. Logic tends to be rather sterilized and separate from the world, relying on abstract syntax.
I don't think it is separate from the world. It has it's own domain. Like many other things (including intuition).

When built on true assumptions, it works really well(I have never seen logic itself come to the wrong conclusion, just errors made by people who apply it, or the assumptions used). The unfortunate thing is that the true assumptions are really difficult to find.

Originally Posted by sprinkles
This is why some people have reduced "I think, therefore I am." down to merely "I think."
I have never met anyone who did that.

Originally Posted by sprinkles
If thinking concludes with being because one must be to think, then, in the moment when you are considering this equation, you must be there to do the thinking. Existing doesn't imply thinking, but thinking about existing implies existing because thinking implies existing.
Yup. Again, with the antecedents and consequents where they are, we are in agreement.

Originally Posted by sprinkles
Therefore I conclude that formulating the equation implies existence. Not in the sense of "I am, therefore I think." but in the sense of "subject x predicate"
Can you expand on that?

Originally Posted by sprinkles
Indeed. In fact I had to give myself pause to realize that you still have to turn over two cards. If you only turn over the A it might be even, but that doesn't give you a conclusion as to the rule. If you get lucky it might be odd right away which would break the rule but there's a chance of that not happening.
So would you believe it possible then, that perhaps in unfamiliar situations, it is possible that your initial instincts can be off in a similar manner?

8. @ygolo

Jaakko Hintikka claimed that one cannot doubt the proposition "I exist."

Consider the possibility of making a proposition "I exist" and being wrong about it. You'd not exist, but still be wrong. Who's wrong?

So there isn't a need for the 'therefore I am'. "I think, therefore I am" is syllogistic, but it isn't actually a syllogism. It should actually have the format "I think, and that which thinks exists, therefore I exist" but the 'that which thinks, exists' part is self evident, and inference is not required.

If you make the proposition and are mistaken about it, then that means that you do not exist yet are still wrong.

Edit: or put it this way. With the statement "I am, therefore I think", the premise and proposition are true but the inference is not. When you knowingly make that statement you do think and you do exist, and are wrong about the inference between them.

9. Originally Posted by sprinkles
@ygolo

Jaakko Hintikka claimed that one cannot doubt the proposition "I exist."

Consider the possibility of making a proposition "I exist" and being wrong about it. You'd not exist, but still be wrong. Who's wrong?

So there isn't a need for the 'therefore I am'. "I think, therefore I am" is syllogistic, but it isn't actually a syllogism. It should actually have the format "I think, and that which thinks exists, therefore I exist" but the 'that which thinks, exists' part is self evident, and inference is not required.

If you make the proposition and are mistaken about it, then that means that you do not exist yet are still wrong.

Edit: or put it this way. With the statement "I am, therefore I think", the premise and proposition are true but the inference is not. When you knowingly make that statement you do think and you do exist, and are wrong about the inference between them.
OK. Things are slightly more clear. We are using modal logic (essentially statements that are only conditionally true). But again, as long as the antecedents and consequents placed properly. I see no issues.

If we used the conjunction "I am and I think", which implies both "I am" and "I think" you would not have gotten any questioning on my part.

It may not be possible to formally doubt that one exists (I have to think that one through more thoroughly), but we can certainly doubt it (though perhaps not formally).

Please give me an honest answer. Is this just a matter of converse error that is trying to be explained away, or is there something actually here?

I have been dealing with students a lot, and correcting logical errors has become a habit of sorts. Perhaps I am not as receptive to counter-intuitive ideas as I usually am.

The only thing that makes some sense is if I interpret things to mean the following:
If we posit a world where all entities both think and exist, then both "I think therefore I am" and "I am therefore I think" are valid.

So are you and @Ginko positing such a world (Perhaps in different ways)?

10. Originally Posted by ygolo
OK. Things are slightly more clear. We are using modal logic (essentially statements that are only conditionally true). But again, as long as the antecedents and consequents placed properly. I see no issues.

If we used the conjunction "I am and I think", which implies both "I am" and "I think" you would not have gotten any questioning on my part.

It may not be possible to formally doubt that one exists (I have to think that one through more thoroughly), but we can certainly doubt it (though perhaps not formally).

Please give me an honest answer. Is this just a matter of converse error that is trying to be explained away, or is there something actually here?

I have been dealing with students a lot, and correcting logical errors has become a habit of sorts. Perhaps I am not as receptive to counter-intuitive ideas as I usually am.

The only thing that makes some sense is if I interpret things to mean the following:
If we posit a world where all entities both think and exist, then both "I think therefore I am" and "I am therefore I think" are valid.

So are you and @Ginko positing such a world (Perhaps in different ways)?
I'm sort of positing that world, with an additional catch: If we posit a world where all entities which posit things both think and exist...

The catch is that with Descartes, he wasn't telling this to other people. He was telling it to himself. So if we consider what is true in a given 'universe' we can interpret that 'I' does not refer to "I, Descartes" and does not refer to "I, sprinkles" because for all we know we could be some part of a collective and the way we conceive ourselves could be entirely an illusion, but the one thing we can't get around in that possible universe is that somebody is doing the thinking to themselves. 'I' does not have to be 'me' it just has to be the author of the equation.

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