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 ifit 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 DiscourseDescartes writes, “I noticed that while I was trying thusenlightenment and action from descartes to kant3436.See the discussion of cogitoabove.
to think . . . it was necessary that I . . . was something” (AT VI:32/CSM I: 127). He knows himself insofar as he is trying to thinksomething.In the Principleshe writes that “we cannot for all that suppose thatwe, who are having such thoughts, are nothing.” Restated for the firstperson, this says that I, who am having certain thoughts, cannotsuppose that I am nothing. What is contradictory is to suppose thatI 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 judgethat I am touching the earth even though the earth does not exist atall; but it cannot be that, when I make this judgment, my mind whichis 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 thecogito, not what it represents. Descartes makes this explicit when he characterizes thought as “everything which we are aware of as happeningwithin us (AT VIIIA: 7/CSM I: 195). This reference tothoughts as happenings comes after he introduces the cogito, and itexplains what he means by thinking in the cogito.However, the most compelling evidence for the claim thatDescartes’s cogitois a case of immediate awareness of one’s ownthoughts comes from his discussion of volition in the Passions of theSoul.37For Descartes, all perceptions are passions because the mindis passive with respect to them (AT XI: 328and342/CSM I: 328and335). Yet some perceptions are caused by the mind, and those arethe 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. Forit is certain that we cannot will anything without thereby perceiving that weare willing it. And although willing something is an action with respect to oursoul, 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 tomy volition but simply arethe volition. Consequently, propositionsdescartes: willful thinking3537.This was noticed by Marion (1993:64).
about my volition that consist of these ideas will be composed of the