But for how long For as long as I am think ing The certainty of my existence

But for how long for as long as i am think ing the

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am, I exist, that is certain. But for how long? For as long as I am think- ing.” The certainty of my existence depends on a certain happening: my thinking. This is why Descartes can also write about thought as if it were a discovery: “At last I have discovered [ invenio ] it – thought; this alone is inseparable [ divelli ] from me.” (AT VII: 27 /CSM II: 18 ). In the Discourse Descartes writes, “I noticed that while I was trying thus enlightenment and action from descartes to kant 34 36 . See the discussion of cogito above.
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to think . . . it was necessary that I . . . was something” (AT VI: 32 /CSM I: 127 ). He knows himself insofar as he is trying to think something. In the Principles he writes that “we cannot for all that suppose that we, who are having such thoughts, are nothing.” Restated for the first person, this says that I, who am having certain thoughts, cannot suppose that I am nothing. What is contradictory is to suppose that I do not exist “at the very same time when [I am] thinking” (AT VIIIA: 7 /CSM I: 195 ). He adds: “For it may perhaps be the case that I judge that I am touching the earth even though the earth does not exist at all; but it cannot be that, when I make this judgment, my mind which is making the judgment does not exist” (AT VIIIA: 9 /CSM I: 196 ). Again, it is the event of making a judgment that is involved in the cogito , not what it represents. Descartes makes this explicit when he characterizes thought as “everything which we are aware of as happening within us (AT VIIIA: 7 /CSM I: 195 ). This reference to thoughts as happenings comes after he introduces the cogito , and it explains what he means by thinking in the cogito . However, the most compelling evidence for the claim that Descartes’s cogito is a case of immediate awareness of one’s own thoughts comes from his discussion of volition in the Passions of the Soul . 37 For Descartes, all perceptions are passions because the mind is passive with respect to them (AT XI: 328 and 342 /CSM I: 328 and 335 ). Yet some perceptions are caused by the mind, and those are the perceptions of our volitions. He writes: [Perceptions] having the soul as their cause are the perceptions of our voli- tions and of all the imaginings or other thoughts which depend on them. For it is certain that we cannot will anything without thereby perceiving that we are willing it. And although willing something is an action with respect to our soul, the perception of such willing may be said to be a passion in the soul. But because this perception is really one and the same thing as the volition, and names are always determined by whatever is most noble, we do not nor- mally call it a “passion,” but solely an “action.” (AT XI: 343 /CSM I: 335 6 ) The perception of volition, that is, the having of an idea of volition, is identical to the volition itself. The ideas that I have of my volitions, at least while I am willing, do not stand in any semantic relation to my volition but simply are the volition. Consequently, propositions descartes: willful thinking 35 37 . This was noticed by Marion ( 1993 : 64 ).
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about my volition that consist of these ideas will be composed of the
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