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Chapter 6 - The Cogito

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 January 2022

Steven Luper
Affiliation:
Trinity University, Texas
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Summary

Here I discuss an argument, suggested by some things that Descartes said, which appears to refute animal essentialism:

1. Suppose that being an organism is essential to me.

2. Then it is impossible for me to exist yet fail to have the features that make for being an organism.

3. If it is impossible for me to exist yet fail to have these features, and my existence is certain, for me, then it is also certain that I have these features.

4. It is certain for me that I exist.

5. But it is not certain for me that I have the features that make for being an organism.

6. 2–5 are inconsistent, so 2, and the assumption at step 1, are false. Being an organism is not essential to me.

I argue that the third premise is vulnerable to attack on the grounds that it is based on a closure principle (certainty is closed under strict implication) that, arguably, is implausible. I also argue that Premise 4 may be challenged by appealing to an account of certainty inspired by some remarks by Lichtenberg, according to which my existence is not certain for me.

Type
Chapter
Information
Mortal Objects
Identity and Persistence through Life and Death
, pp. 95 - 109
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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  • The Cogito
  • Steven Luper, Trinity University, Texas
  • Book: Mortal Objects
  • Online publication: 27 January 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108981316.007
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  • The Cogito
  • Steven Luper, Trinity University, Texas
  • Book: Mortal Objects
  • Online publication: 27 January 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108981316.007
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • The Cogito
  • Steven Luper, Trinity University, Texas
  • Book: Mortal Objects
  • Online publication: 27 January 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108981316.007
Available formats
×