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February 25, 2008


Chris Craft

And whom shall I say is asking the question?

Tuur Demeester

an attempt:

Reasonability implies the capacity to be aware of certain things and to be able to make true judgements.

We can divide all living creatures into beings that are potentially reasonable and beings that are not.

Of the beings that are potentially reasonable (animal rationis capax), some are conscious of their own existence.

It is undeniably true that beings who are aware of their own existence and reasonable capacities thereby prove that they exist, for a non-existing creature cannot act or reason.

I am capable of formulating the above statements, therefore I prove myself to be a reasonable being.

I am aware of my own reasonable faculties, therefore I am a self-conscious being.

I am aware of my being reasonable right now, therefore, I am.


You who are reading this exist
You did not write this
One must exist in order to write
Therefore I, the writer, exist
We exist in the same way, I as much as, as separate, distinct, and individual as you


I cannot help but wonder when (or if) you will reveal that the greatest minds of our times have been struggling with this, unresolvedly, for centuries.

And then I wonder when (not if) students, feeling duped, will egg your car. :)


Well, I have yet to be unequivocally convinced of the existence of anyone else based solely on their words. Thus an honest effort to prove my own existence to a rational individual would either be a) fruitless or b) an exercise in convincing myself of something I already know to be true (or secret option c) a revelation of my own irrationality). Besides, I'm not sure we can improve upon Descartes.

Graham Glass

If I didn't exist, then who wrote this?

Penelope Millar

Anything I say here could have been cut-and-pasted by another, or by a machine.

So no, I can't.

Christian Long

Ranking the responses on a 1 (rock) to 10 (philosopher with capital 'P') scale, here goes:

1. Chris: Clever bait-n-switch. I'm giving it a 7 for audacity alone. Still doesn't suggest an ability to answer the Q and prove existence. Voices are in many people's heads, but we rarely take them seriously (he smiles).

2. Tuur: "Awareness" has been at the center of many of my students' responses, so they'd really appreciate your reply. Adding "reasonable" to the mix is a bit subjective, so I'm leaving that open to the court of public opinion. An 8.5 for the answer.

3. 5tein: Hey, could be robots who wrote it or a 'god' force or something outside of our realm of understanding. And obviously the 'voices' in our head are capable, too. I love the last line in particular and offer up an 8 for that alone.

4. Dina: My kids are already working through this realization...but I fear NO egging! No score...but a smile.

5. Neal: You get a 5 for bringing up Descartes automatically -- and making sure that it becomes a 'known' fact for everyone from this point forward -- but let's look at the rest. I'm feeling points just for admitting that you could be irrational, rather than stubbornly assuming only the converse. Another 3 for that totaling an 8 at this point.

6. Graham: Copy cat. No points. But I still love the idea.

7. Penelope: Favorite answer of all so far (not including my own students who are still submitting answers). You get a 9 for 'going there'. Well done.


I'll post a few of my kids' best answers next week. Stay tuned.

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