Philosophy Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for those interested in logical reasoning. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Is there a difference between when a person says 'I exists.', compared to the same person saying ' I'm existing.'? Is the person saying at the one time 'I exist.' saying he exists at a certain moment and has the 'functional capability' to exist for further moments in the foreseeable future? And when the person says I'm existing, maybe this is like the former statement yet emphasizing that the 'existing' is a functional capabilty to exist that is ever continuing , like a self-sustaining quality.

share|improve this question
It's a great question, but I think it's best suited for English.SE. – user132181 May 8 '14 at 7:43
Agreed with user132181. Pretty sure that, as an example, in Latin one would just use the verb "to be" (esse). Similarly in Hebrew, God is written to have said "I am," which could just as easily be translated "I exist." So, seems like a quirk with English. – James Kingsbery May 8 '14 at 14:18
Could one paraphrase and say 'I think therefore I exist and I know I will be existing for at least the next few moments.' Is this equivalent? – user128932 Oct 19 '14 at 6:57

I wouldn't read any serious metaphysical conclusions into the difference between the simple present and present progressive tenses in English, if for no other reason than that not all natural languages make such a distinction.

share|improve this answer
Maybe philosophically 'I exist' and 'I am existing' are different as I am existing is a phrase emphasizing the processes necessary for one to even be able to say I exist . Even if your memory can be deceived there are certain autonomic processes that must be 'operating' for more than a moment by moment basis. These are necessary processes that one must 'feel'are 'being' maintained for hopefully long durations. Can you imagine feeling your necessary biological PROCESSES are only 'certain' from one moment to the next?? – user128932 May 10 '14 at 6:03
If you take a picture of your car and a second later a passing Tank flattens it , you could say the car in the picture 'exists' , even though it is like a frozen snapshot or a freeze frame. And right now the former car is flat so from when the picture was taken to 'now' the car in the picture only lasted say one minute. My point is ,to say something 'exists' is like saying it exists NOW and maybe for the next few seconds. To say something is existing MAY indicate it exists now and has inherent processes that are 'self-built' to keep all it's important subsystems working. – user128932 Oct 5 '14 at 5:37
If a person says 'I exist' , they are saying they exist now ( and by tacit assumption) for the next few moments. They are not really implying anything about their inherent ability to exist and keep existing and maintaining themselves for the next few minutes or hours. Yet if the person says, ' I'm existing' they are implying they not only exist now but have some sort of ability to keep existing. This may even speak to their continued ability to keep existing and maintaining themselves.. – 201044 Dec 20 '15 at 20:52

You cannot be certain that you are existing as your memory may be deceiving you, only that you exist at the moment when you are asking the question do 'I exist.'

And you cannot be sure about that ether. You are basing that you exist on logic (I think therefore I am) that you have learned through observation (by using your senses) so it's unreliable ether. We are completely in the dark, sorry.

share|improve this answer
It's actually the other way around, no? At least in our everyday language usage. I'm existing, now, but there's no way to make sure that I exist before I didn't establish the continuity of the "I". – iphigenie May 8 '14 at 11:10
That's still wrong. Tell your Brit he or she should check out the difference between simple present and continuous: ( – iphigenie May 8 '14 at 11:39
This is not just a grammer terminology problem. Couldn't many philosophical dilemmas be called grammer problems..Was some set of paradoxes resolved by saying certain sentences were not well-founded. – user128932 May 10 '14 at 6:23
I'm existing is similar to saying I have many important sub-processes involved in my cognition and other biological processes that are existing ; that is processes that are not just simple cyclic phenomema but are processes with important inherent durations. That is processes with a 'required' duration ( whether approximate or strictly defined) are not existing until the whole process 'plays out'. So I could say I'm a self-orienting self-sustaining 'conglomeration' of important 'sub-processes' that are existing ( in that 'they' need time). – user128932 Oct 4 '14 at 5:49
@LIUFA ; your update about making statements based on logic and observation about matters relating to existence being unreliable means your own statement about existence-questions is unreliable and we don't have to be 'in the dark' ; sorry. – user128932 Oct 12 '14 at 4:03

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.