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Is "i Breathe Therefore I Am" the Same as "i Think Therefore I Am?"

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Perhaps the best way to approach this essay would be to first differentiate between the statements. "I think therefore I am" is a translation from Rene Descartes' original French statement, "Je pense, donc je suis" or as it is more famously known in Latin, "cogito ergo sum". This famous quote effectively refers to Descartes' belief that since we know that a thinking process and thoughts are present, then it only concurs that there should be a thinking thing, or an existing self, for these thoughts to inhere in. This would come to be referred to as a Ð''Cartesian self' . Moreover, he believed that the self could exist without experience, while experience cannot exist without the self, further lending weight to his claim that the fact that he could think and doubt all else around him proves to a certain extent his existence. Descartes writes in his paper,

"I find in me faculties of thought altogether special and distinct from myself, such as the faculties of imagination and perceiving, without which I can indeed conceive myself clearly and distinctly as whole and entire, but I cannot conceive them without me, that is to say, without an intelligent substance to which they are attached. (Descartes 1985: 156-7) .

At the end of the first meditation, Descartes seeks one fact of which he can be certain and in "cogito ergo sum", he manages to reach the following conclusions:

1) Whatever thinks exists

2) I think.

Therefore 3) I exist.

In fact, this concept is stated at the beginning of his second meditation as follows,

"I have convinced myself there is absolutely nothing in the world, no sky, no earth, no minds, no bodies. Does it follow now that I don't exist either? No. If I persuaded myself of anything, then certainly I existed. But there is a deceiver of supreme power and cunning who deliberately and constantly deludes me. In that case, too, I undoubtedly exist, if he is deceiving me. And let him deceive me to his heart's content, he will never bring it about that I am nothing so long as I think that I am something."

Descartes believed that even if there were an evil Ð''deceiver' at work, his belief in his own existence would be secure, for how could he be deceived unless he existed in order to be deceived?

The statement, "I breathe therefore I am", although very similar to "cogito ergo sum" at first glance, turns out to be rather different altogether upon further inspection. The key word here is the term Ð''breathe' Ð'- a faculty which most, if not all, people agree is crucial to our survival. Perhaps the better way to have phrased this statement would have been "I breathe therefore I am physically alive", in which case, there would have been much less argument. It might be worthwhile to bear in mind that although breathing is a physical phenomenon that we do every moment of our lives , it is still a faculty which is very much



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