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Course Hero. "Meditations on First Philosophy (with Objections and Replies) Study Guide." November 10, 2017. Accessed February 24, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Meditations-on-First-Philosophy-with-Objections-and-Replies/.
Course Hero, "Meditations on First Philosophy (with Objections and Replies) Study Guide," November 10, 2017, accessed February 24, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Meditations-on-First-Philosophy-with-Objections-and-Replies/.
In the Fifth Objection, French philosopher Pierre Gassendi argues it is possible to prove one's existence another way. More specifically, he claims any action would suffice to prove existence, since "by the natural light" those acts exist.
Descartes replies that doubt about everything except the action of thought is precisely why he cannot, for example, argue, "'I am walking, therefore I am,' ... except in so far as the consciousness of walking is a thought." It is not, consequently, any action at all that will demonstrate existence but specifically the action of thinking.
Gassendi's objection is not uncommon, but Descartes's reply helps the reader hone in on the scope of action to which his reasoning applies. The "I" attached as the grammatical subject of a first-person sentence describing an action effectively blurs the conceptual line between a body in motion and awareness of that motion. So, when one says, "I eat, therefore I am," it is not the eating that generates the inference but the "I" who is having the thought of doing it.