In Wikipedia the critiques don't make much sense to me


For example, it is said that "Saul Fisher 'points out that recognition that one has a set of thoughts does not imply that one is a particular thinker or another. …[T]he only claim that is indubitable here is the agent-independent claim that there is cognitive activity present.'"

I don't understand. Is this guy saying he doesn't exist? Why is he denying his own consciousness?

Is he saying that he is just like a computer? If so, then would he argue that a computer is "thinking"?

Is he denying his own mind?

Is "I" different than consciousness? If so, how is it possible to have consciousness without an "I" or a "self"?

  • Why are you reading Wikipedia on subtle philosophical issues? The criticism of "I" insertion goes back to Lichtenberg and Russell and is discussed much more competently on SEP. And no, it is not about self-denial or being a computer, it is about soundness of Descartes's reasoning.
    – Conifold
    Commented May 17 at 23:09
  • Let's flip your question round Is he saying that he is just like a computer? .... After you spend an hour having a ❤️ to heart 💙 conversation with chatGPT
    – Rushi
    Commented May 18 at 3:12

2 Answers 2


What he is saying is that Descartes wants to establish the indubitable truth that there is a particular res cogitans, ie. a specific thinking substance, that is me.

Fisher points out that given the structure of the argument is valid, it still fails to establish what it seeks to establish since instead of "I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am", all the argument can validly establish from its premises is "there is doubt, therefore there is thought, therefore something is thinking".

In other words, even if it can establish some consciousness, my (ontological/metaphysical) individuality could still be an illusion, which many old Asian philosophies hold. It would take more space than a single answer can cover to explain how these philosophies consider individual consciousness to be illusionary, though.

A good start may be to read on the Upanishads. A probably rather controversial (among adherents) yet academic source to start with would be this article.

  • Refreshing to see some real philosophy out here... at least occasionally 😉
    – Rushi
    Commented May 18 at 2:30

"i think therefore i am", revist, does criticisms really hold?

I do not understand the word "revist". With that in mind, here's my answer.

Fisher's comment is indeed a puzzler. Descartes's quote becomes either (1) "I present cognitive activity, therefore I am", or (2) "There is cognitive activity present, independent of me or anyone else, therefore nothing else follows."

#2 seems more likely. I do not see where the cognitive activity would come from, if such a thing is truly agent-independent.

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