• charles ferraro
    89
    Is the proposition "I think, therefore I am":
    analytic a priori
    synthetic a priori
    analytic a posteriori
    synthetic a posteriori
  • tim wood
    3.4k
    You need to put an "is" in there. The "therefore" implies it's analytic a priori, but as it sits, that's begging the question.
  • TheMadFool
    4.4k


    1. I think
    [2]. If I think then I exist
    Therefore,
    3. I exist

    An argument can't be categorized as synthetic or analytic.

    The argument is a posteriori because thinking has to be experienced.
  • tim wood
    3.4k
    The argument is a posteriori because thinking has to be experienced.TheMadFool
    The experience - discovery - of it is a posteriori. Let's say you discover it. But I have not. Not so for me until I experience - discover - it?

    The argument here is that once it's known, then the judgment that expresses it is a priori, and in as much as thinking implies being, analytic. That is, the concept of being can be found within the concept of thinking - which is really the whole point.

    Agreed, some experience of some kind (thinking, for Descartes' cogito) is needed to reveal it. But the thinking is not constitutive of the truth it represents. That is analytic a priori.

    Example: on a plane, triangles have three sides (maybe on all surfaces, but I don't know). That has to be "experienced" first, a posteriori. Then once known, the judgment that expresses it is analytic a priori. By implication, if not so, then triangles for a smart fellow like you always have three sides while for me, maybe as many as I want - and they're all still triangles!.
  • TheMadFool
    4.4k
    I will get back to this later. Thanks.
  • TheMadFool
    4.4k
    What I'm surprised with is you agreeing that an observation of thinking has to be made and, in the same breath, saying Descartes' statement is a priori.

    I don't see how that's possible?

    Are you saying that once we understand the argument it changes from a posteriori to a priori? This doesn't make sense (to me) either. If that's the case then all a posteriori arguments would behavr similarly. I don't get it. Please kindly explain.

    As for the analytic/synthetic distinction, you seem to be saying thinking contains the existence of the I. How is it so?

    Thank you.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k
    Synthetic a priori in my opinion.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k
    You need to put an "is" in there. The "therefore" implies it's analytic a priori, but as it sits, that's begging the question.tim wood

    Wait--I'm confused. Where would we put the word "is"?
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k
    What I'm surprised with is you agreeing that an observation of thinking has to be made and, in the same breath, saying Descartes' statement is a priori.

    I don't see how that's possible?
    TheMadFool

    So you don't believe that a priori is possible then? Because how would any statement be a priori without thinking being involved?
  • tim wood
    3.4k
    Dunno. But categorical statements - propositions, judgments, statements - all contain an implied if not an actual "is."
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k
    Dunno. But categorical statements - propositions, judgments, statements - all contain an implied if not an actual "is."tim wood

    You mean, for example, "I am thinking" instead of "I think"? (Or maybe "I am thinking, therefore I am existent"?)

    Why would it make a difference to phrase it that way (so that we need to do that)?
  • Valentinus
    630
    In the context of Descartes' argument in the Meditations, the experience of thinking includes all other perception as equally "self evident" :

    But it will be said that these presentations are false, and that I am dreaming. Let it be so. At all events it is certain that I seem to see light, hear a noise, and feel heat; this cannot be false, and this is nothing else than thinking. From this I begin to know what I am with somewhat greater clearness and distinctness than before. First Meditation, translated by John Veitch

    If we are to apply Kant's terminology to this observation then Descartes is beginning with a synthetic a posteriori judgement of what can only be found through experience and then proceeding to define the "limits to truth" that leads him to objects found through "analytic" demonstration.
  • tim wood
    3.4k
    Wish I'd have written that - or even just thought it!
  • Valentinus
    630

    Thank you.
    I guess this points toward the topic often debated here over whether the Cartesian duality is identical to the one used by Kant and the other "Idealists."
  • Jamesk
    317
    I guess this points toward the topic often debated here over whether the Cartesian duality is identical to the one used by Kant and the other "Idealists."Valentinus

    I wouldn't say that they are identical but they do all share the Cartesian super-premise and begin from the semi-solipsistic point that all we have certain knowledge of is our mind or at least ideas. I am not sure that this only applies to idealist, it is also an empirical problem. Hume also concluded that ideas are the only thing that we know.

    I will say that it is an a priori epistemological claim.
  • Valentinus
    630
    I will say that it is an a priori epistemological claim.Jamesk

    That description is difficult for me to understand because I read Kant's intent in separating a priori from a posteriori as the "epistemology." The separation goes toward understanding the "possibility for experience" in the scheme where the intellectual and the sensible are different from each other and behave differently as a result.

    Descartes, especially in his account in the Discourse on Method, starts with all his experiences and works on how he can be certain of what he knows. That he reduces that circle to himself and the presumption of a God who isn't just playing with him for laughs is not a step toward explaining the "possibility for experience." Descartes expounded upon the utility of his method (as demonstrated through The Geometry, for instance) for science and practical matters. I think he would have shrugged his shoulders at Hume's skepticism. The central point of the "method" is not to throw up one's hands when something unknown pops up.

    The experience of the ego is fundamentally the same as other sensations in the sense that they cannot be escaped by the one who experiences. The differences show up through what gets repeated or not. In that register, Descartes kept showing up in a strikingly different way than other things. He did not explore what that might mean as a principle of explanation. His proof of God amounts to letting others worry about it.

    I had a teacher long ago who was asked about this in class (by somebody much smarter than me) and the teacher just lit a cigar and said, well, notice how nobody set Descartes on fire...
  • charles ferraro
    89
    Descartes' Cogito Sum may not be, primarily, a proposition at all and none of the four options may do it justice.
    Perhaps, instead, Descartes' Cogito Sum is best interpreted to be a doing, a thought-act, which is existentially consistent and existentially self-verifying only when and while the meditator is performing it in the first person, present tense mode. Only then does the meditator experience (intuit), first hand, the truth of the Cogito Sum.
  • Valentinus
    630

    I get the agency reflecting agency part of what you are saying.

    But what was your interest in asking the question as you did?
  • charles ferraro
    89
    Just wanted to see if someone could, in fact, really do justice to Descartes' Cogito Sum using one of those four alternatives.
  • Valentinus
    630

    So, are you outside of the game, seeing how others would play?
  • charles ferraro
    89
    What makes you think I view TPF as a game? Does my other post on TPF re: Descartes look like I'm playing a game?
  • Valentinus
    630

    Whoa. I didn't mean to challenge you in that way.
    I was asking about the questions you asked in this post and if you were interested in the answers for your own sake.

    I am still good with my selection, by the way.
  • charles ferraro
    89
    Definitely interested in the reasoning supporting the answers. By the way, the position I took was based on the thinking of the Finnish philosopher Jaakko Hintikka.
  • Valentinus
    630

    Give us a piece of what you like from Hintikka.
  • charles ferraro
    89
    I would refer you to the following journal article: Jaakko Hintikka, Cogito ergo Sum: Inference or Performance, Philosophical Review 71 (1): 3-32 (1962)
  • TheMadFool
    4.4k
    So you don't believe that a priori is possible then? Because how would any statement be a priori without thinking being involved?Terrapin Station

    I don't know how to say this but...

    Imagine thinking to be a tool, like a hammer.

    In Descartes' argument the hammer (thinking) is a subject and is being mentioned as evidence for his conclusion that Descartes exists

    In a real a priori argument, the hammer (thinking) is used as a tool and is not the evidence for an argument
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