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Whoa, Was That Your Former High School Classmate Just Now? An Investigation

Jeffrey Ndubisi, CC student extraordinaire, files this report.

How do you know that you exist?

A loaded question, I realize, but I think we’ll be able to get a good answer from Descartes, who goes after this very problem in his “Discourse on Method.” In his quest to find out what is “true,” he decides to run inventory on all of his beliefs to see if there’s any belief that he can just… throw out.

Beliefs based on our senses? We can’t trust those. Throw ’em out.

Beliefs based on others’ demonstrations? Well, the people performing those demonstrations can be mistaken on some pretty basic things. Throw ’em out.

Beliefs based on our own thoughts, even? “The same thoughts we have when we are awake can also come to us when we are asleep, without any of them being true.” Throw ’em out.

But wait a minute – look at all this… logic. You, arguing against your own beliefs? Well, if you’re able to argue, then there’s gotta be something present there that allows for the arguing. You may not know yourself, but you at least know you exist – if only to argue. (Kinda like some people in Lit Hum, amiritefellas???????)

But consider for a moment the following situation: you’re walking back to Wien from Ferris, plate of red velvet cookies in tow, when who should you see walking out of Butler but that one high school classmate of yours who you never really knew all that well, but saw enough of to know them upon seeing them.

You doubt yourself. Clearly, a fault of the senses. Is it, though? Yes, Descartes says our senses may sometimes deceive us. But that’s only some guy’s take, emphasis on “some guy.”

You didn’t come up with that idea, did you, reader? No. You’re currently accepting this “deceptive senses” idea because it was demonstrated to you, and didn’t seem too ludicrous on its surface for you to doubt. Yet, as Descartes himself has said (and I have paraphrased with excellently sourced tweets), those responsible for demonstrating proof for a belief can be mistaken on some pretty basic things.

All I’m saying is, if the mere possibility of a person having flawed logic in their demonstration is enough for Descartes to abandon any beliefs he took on because of something that person said, then we ought to do the same. I couldn’t tell you what’s explicitly wrong with Descartes’ argument against the consistency of the senses, but something could be wrong with it. So…

…throw it out. This leaves us with two options — either that the senses are never wrong, or that the senses are always wrong.

I’m now in an interesting position, because I’ve galaxy-brained my way into a hole. I’m trying to convince you of something, but unless you come up with that something yourself, then it’s demonstration, and I lose your page-view the same way I burned Descartes’s essay.

So I won’t demonstrate, I’ll ask: is something happening to/around you, or not? Please pick one of the two aforementioned options based on your response. (Here’s some Kahoot countdown music to set the mood.)

Welcome back! If you hopefully feel the same way I do, glad to have you on board. If not, it was nice having you. (How you’ve even arrived here, on the other hand, is a) impressive, and b) an inquiry for some other Bwogger.)

Comrade, your senses are always right. Not only is that person you saw coming out of Butler definitely your former high school classmate…

…any professor you felt gave you a bad grade because they hated you does in fact have several dart boards in a closet at home custom-printed with your face on the bullseye. Anytime you smelled something funky that no one else around you smelled, they were all collectively lying. Why? You know why.

The completely real wink that your crush gave you in class means that they want you exactly as much as you’ve gauged that wink to mean, and your imposter syndrome? It is, in fact, completely justified by whatever prompted it this time. You don’t deserve to be here. Have a nice day!

It’s them. (courtesy of NeedPix)

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1 Comment

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous thank you, comrade jeffrey. hope you also have a nice day! x

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