Frans_Hals_-_Portret_van_René_DescartesWell, it’s time for another philosophical story challenge! Remember that our philosophy forms the foundation for everything that we do, and for everything that we write, in one way or another. So, you probably know the rules for these challenges by now, but in case you don’t: I provide you with a classical philosophical question, and you provide a story that presents and defends your response. So, your question this week: Can you be sure that you exist? One of the primary questions in epistemology is the question of how we know things. Decartes famously claimed that because he was capable of thought, he could know that he existed. However, this is founded on a basic intuition. For instance, it could be argued that my thoughts are not my own. For instance, when I dream my dreams are populated by non-existent beings that speak and act. These are both evidences of thought, does this mean that the beings in my dreams actually exist? If not, why does thought mean that I exist? So, is it possible to be sure that you exist?

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4 thoughts on “Philosophical Story Challenge of the Week

  1. Ok, this isn’t an original story at all, but it’s so ready-made for this that I just have to post it:
    “One day, Zhuangzi was dreaming in his home, and he dreamt that he was a butterfly flitting over a field of flowers. The dream was so vivid, so real, that when Zhuangzi awoke, he was uncertain as to who he was. When a servant came in, he asked his servant, ‘Am I a man who has dreamt of being a butterfly, or am I a butterfly dreaming that I am a man?'”

    The moral of the story, if there is such a thing, is that we all must assume our most basic perceptions of the universe to be true. To do otherwise is the path of madness. Logic can find no other foundation to work on if that one is abandoned, and logic ultimately NEEDS a foundation. It can’t stand on it’s own.

    Please note that, while the story is a classic philosophical one, the moral is one I added to it.

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