Is there anything that is beyond question and that which is beyond doubt? (as everything is temporal, including the subject)

  • 2
    Cogito ergo sum?
    – Magus
    Oct 15 '14 at 18:31
  • Welcome to PSE! As asked, this question is quite broad, could you narrow down? Oct 15 '14 at 18:46
  • If I could narrow down :(. Thanks for the welcome. Cogito ergo sum has an implicit I.
    – zrini
    Oct 15 '14 at 18:57
  • From an answer I saw some time ago, most people don't take the Cogito that way anymore.
    – Magus
    Oct 15 '14 at 19:02

An obvious answer to this is the existence of the subject, i.e., the self that considers the question. This is partially what the famous Cartesian assertion, cogito ergo sum ("I think therefore I am") refers to.

There are ways to nit-pick Descartes' formulation, however. It does seem syllogistic, i.e., actually based on two premises:

  • That thinking things exist.
  • That I think.

One problem this exposes is the issue of who or what it is that actually thinks; "I think therefore..." takes as given that it is in fact the I subject which thinks. Yet conjecture could lead us to the conclusion that it might be something else which thinks, and the I is simply an observer of this with itself as the subject.

A refinement would be to ditch the the "think" but keep the "I" and "exists", such that the subject is proof of existence. So there are two unquestionable things, the subject, and existence. This implies it might be possible for there to be existence, but no subject, in which case existence is the fundamental ground of the subject. Solipsism is a challenge to this, asserting that without the subject there might be no existence, in which case existence and the subject are one and the same.

everything is temporal, including the subject

This is not true; some facts about existence could be said to be non-temporal even if they are not certain. For example, that 1 + 1 = 2 is a belief, but if it were true, then it does not depend on a thinking subject, or time, to be so.

Time is meaningful only in terms of relation, which is erased by the solipsitic challenge. A solipsistic subject might pragmatically deploy the concept of time (and "existence") in self-reflection, but this does not make it otherwise real.

  • Thanks... without the questioner there is no question. One might as well say: I doubt, therefore I exist (by the virtue of doubting) :).
    – zrini
    Oct 15 '14 at 21:07

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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