Rene Descartes

I think I remember reading somewhere that Rene Descartes’s famous quote, “I think, therefore I am” is actually incomplete-- that the real quote was “I think, therefore I am-- but I doubt it.” Which completely changes the meaning.

Anybody know if this is true, and if it isn’t, where I might have heard that it was?(I’m thinking here, from someone like CKDextHaven)



I have no idea where you might have heard it, but it is incorrect.

I refer you to ‘The Meditations’, second edition, Descartes, 1642

Cogito Ergo Sum. “I think, therefore I am.”
Discours de la Méthode. 1637.

Thank goodness I said ‘second edition’ or I would have looked even dumber.

Also, the quote is often misinterpreted as meaning that Rene’s thinking is the cause of his existence, when actually what it means, is that Rene’s thinking is how he knows he exists. It doesn’t in any way preclude the possibility of nonthinking things existing.

And Rene Descartes was a drunken fart
“I drink therefore I am”

drat - you beat me to it

Hey Rene… wanna 'nother beer?

I have a funny little book that reveals that what Descartes actually said, with a sniff of his nose, was “I think, therefore I am French.” :smiley:

Hey, that’s my line!

The little philosopher that could: I think I am, I think I am, I think I am.

Cogito, ergo, potato. I think therefore I yam.

no, it’s Descartes in a bar & the barman asks him if he wants another drink. Rene says “I think not” & vanishes…

Gee, I feel honoured, Yue! And I actually think I know what you’re talking about. So I can respond, and you didn’t invoke my name in vain.

The actual set up, IIRC, is that Descarte starts to prove existence by doubting everything – he doubts his senses, doubts what he sees, doubts what he hears, etc. He doubts that the chair exists, he doubts that the room exists. In the end, he can doubt that everything exists, except his own doubt. He cannot doubt away the doubt itself. And thus, he says, “I doubt; therefore I think. I think; therefore I exist.”

Man, it’s been over 30 years since I took that class!

… that can be called into question.

I read it long time ago but I still remember the gist of it. He tries to build his philoshophy starting from scratch, putting everything into question. His first step then is to confirm his own existence and states “I think therefore I exist” and goes on to say not even the most skeptic could doubt the correctness of this assertion. From there he goes on…

I am sure the original text could be found online but I am quite sure this summarizes it.

Rene Descartes was on an airplane. the stewardess came up to him and asked “Would you like a beverage sir?” Descartes replied “I think not…” and POOF… he disappeared.

P.s. I know Descartes on an airplane is an anachronism.

Since we’re stuck with puns, people who prefer “Cogito, ergo sum” to “Non sum qualis eram” are putting Descarte before Horace.


Oh please…:slight_smile:

I wonder if someone was just conflating two similar stories?

Augustine of Hippo also ran through some ontological musings in which he wondered whether he really existed and how he could know for sure. His response was “Si dubito, sum.” (If I doubt, I am: If I am even capable of doubting my existence, someone must be doing the doubting, so I must exists.