“But I have occasionally caught the senses deceiving me, and it would be prudent for me never completely to trust those who have cheated me even once.”
- René Descartes
In our awaken state of mind, with our bodies tolling throughout the day, we rely on our senses, our conscious morally correct mind, each other and ourselves to relay back to us what we see and know. We trust in the elementary things that have been taught to us from years ago. We act on them and use them as devices to make simple and exquisite decisions. At the end of the day we retire, slipping into an altered state of mind, we dream of things that could never fully come to term if placed in this world of limitations. We wake and replay each day with only minor differences to tell one another from the last. Our senses drive us through this process; we follow blindly. We are finite. We are flawed.
And so here I am, thinking about how out of the past three months, I can literally pin point the days that strayed away from the consistency of the rest. Of how the days that have stood out, have done so through some activity that caused me to be a bit more excitable. Happy and distressed. I imagine Freud would have a field day labeling a disorder for me. As I write trying to imagine the next sentence, concentrating on each word, I think of how when each day is broken down and examined, my general likes and dislikes heightened, my biggest annoyance has come from those who blatantly lie through some passive aggressive act, just to deal with life. Then I realize that despite myself, half of everything I think and a quarter of everything I believe, somewhere down the line, I am that liar. I am that passive aggressor. I am that person ensnared in this reality, throwing childlike tantrums, subconsciously holding onto the belief that my senses and knowledge would never lead me astray. According to Descartes, I am wrong.
One: Doubt Everything
Descartes believed that as humans we should doubt everything. That our dreams throw us into an elaborate world with happenings that can be no more surreal or false, as the world we live in when awake. The only defining difference mentally, between when I’m awake and when I’m asleep, is nothing more but a flutter of the eyes. The switch between a solid reality to a bemused state of mind. All the actions that I’m performing right now with all the rules of time can bypass my senses and convince me that I’m in nothing more then just a dull dream. Who’s to say really that my dream is no more real then the waking eyes I perceive as reality?
I suppose Descartes said it best when he so concisely concluded, “ I see so plainly that there are no reliable signs by which I can distinguish sleeping from waking that I am stupefied – and my stupor itself suggests that I am asleep!”
Upon browsing through my cryptozoology (the study of monsters) book, I discovered that every single last grotesque monster or deformed abomination of a beast that has been brought to life through tales and blurry Polaroid’s were all splices of the eerily familiar. In the twist of our imagination we” try to give bizarre shapes to sirens and satyrs, [we] are unable to give them completely new natures, but can only jumble together the parts of various animals.” Even through our wildest and distorted thoughts our conscious awareness and rationality sets in, our senses, and we helplessly follow under the tangible things in the universe. It seems that through feeble deduction, what is all around false only follows and fortifies what is true. My dreams and nightmare beasts only prove to me that what I see in my mind’s eye when I am asleep, is that my senses have led me to not only believe for a short amount of time that they are real, but also that through questioning both sides of my conscious and unconscious mind, it’s only fair to say that my failing senses have forced me to consider distrusting everything.
How am I to live in such of a world where I should doubt everything? My senses may deceive me in my dream, but the materialized things I can physically hold in my hand, personally hear, smell, visually see and taste must be real on the grounds of common sense, nay science. Right now I am holding a no. 2 yellow pencil. I can feel this substance that we have universally deemed as wood. It is very smooth under my skin up until it gets to the lead point, where the wood then turns rough while the lead takes on the character of being slick. The pencil is light and when put to my nose I can smell what my brain has long since registered as earthen materials with a painted yellow topcoat. In fact, if I gnaw on the side of the pencil I can so vividly taste and feel the topcoat coloring giving way to my teeth, as they sink into the near fragile wooden device. I can hear it steadily giving in under my jaw. I can hear the lead whisk and scratch at the paper. My senses are relaying back to my conscious mind as I slowly destroy the pencil. Am I wrong in not assuming that everything I have just experienced has been a falsified moment with no real standing substance? I suppose I could always close my eyes and imagine all of this, grasping at my memory of past senses that have been collected over time regarding this no.2 yellow pencil. But internally, I know the distinction between objects I am touching and objects I wish I were touching. I cannot doubt the existence of this pencil therefore I can’t deny my existence.
I suppose looking at a problem from both perspectives is the knowledgeable thing to do. Just like Descartes dilemma with the mental conception of wax, my pencil is to me. The material of wood and lead are two separate things that have been extracted from the earth, cut down and meshed together. This is true. When the pencil is sharpened, the wood and lead break down even smaller into a fine dust. This goes on until the pencil is completely gone. My concept of what a pencil does is no longer valid because all the properties I have previously listed of what makes a no.2 pencil a no.2 pencil are now no more, or better yet only exist as fragments of its former self. Through my senses (that have been accurate as far as I can tell), and my conscious intake on how my pencil has changed I am left agreeing and disagreeing in frustration with that the “physical objects are not really known through sensation or imagination, but are grasped by the understanding alone,” therefore “ I can’t know anything more easily or plainly then my mind.” In spite of myself, Descartes has deemed to be right.
Two: I Can’t Doubt That I’m Doubting
In doubting everything, at least trying to doubt everything, is not plausible. I suppose it’s not plausible because in my mind I am still uncertain if doubting everything is something I can personally accept. Going around in circles in my head, defining my idea of what a pencil is and defining my dreams, I contradict myself. It seems however, in philosophy that is a very common thing. Descartes even goes back and states that despite doubting everything, “ there is thinking, and thought alone cannot be taken away from me. I am, I exist.” My existence has now been proven through my thought alone.
As my mind zips around each new thought that enters my head and my eyelids began to flicker up and down with indecision, I come to question if my existence could exist outside of my body. An odd thought indeed, but hear me out. Physically my being takes up space. My presence has materialized through a nine- month time frame in which I begun to steadily grow from nothing more but an egg and sperm. Before that however, I did not exist, took up no room and was nothing more then an un-thought thought. I came to be what I am now over a twenty- four year time frame. As I get older I grow and need more energy and space from sources outside of myself to live. But this of course is how everyone comes into existence. The only difference is my personality, which derives from not my physical, but from my mental. It is my mind, my consciousness alone, that has taken in and emotionally registered the things around me, that has stored my memories, that has made me an individual internally, while relatively being the same as everyone else externally.
I feel like our bodies are nothing more then marionettes on this earth. Our minds/consciousness are the unseen puppeteers. On an alternate world, perhaps our dreams where our bodies lay dormant while our minds take on their physical life; we are controlled. Just like a parasite to its host, our body leaches on to our mind in the most unconventional way. Decaying over time, gaining new physical ailments and ultimately dyeing, our bodies wither away while our minds free of it’s parasite, returns to that alternate world where our beings can only reach when asleep. Perhaps then that is why when we are slumbering, we dream of people that physically have left us and of events that have yet to exist. My spirit you can say has gone to a place unlike heaven. All the minds of the dead and living are linked through the alternative world of the cognizant. My existence derives from my mental confirmation. My existence derives from my unconscious mind. But I digress.
Three: I Am A Thinking Thing- A Mind, Mental Substance
It’s a bit odd I suppose. I mean of course, my internal understanding of who and what I am. My thoughts have persuaded and so delicately manipulated my internal senses and the way that I behave so much, that I have so stubbornly held on and believed in all honesty that no other living, breathing human being must possibly think or be the same as I. I’m sure it’s safe to say that this type of conceitedness does not escape me alone.
For instance, babies for a period of time have no concept of any real space or distinction of themselves from other people. Their ignorance leads them to believe in their fragile mind that only they exist and rule the forces outside of themselves. Children, keeping up with the silly ignorance of their earlier years, for the most part yearn for others to supply them with things to uphold their existence. Being co-dependent and selfish, from no fault of their own, they expect food, shelter, being nurtured and emotionally validated and find it hard to break that habit as they become older. As for adults, take how I previously viewed my self. From years of being pampered, I have taken on the role mentally that I am this unique individual that stands on top of the jungle gym as to say, with infinite possibilities and control over my domain. I take for granted my free will and brashness will never falter. On the outside when it comes to interacting with other overgrown children, I have learned that selfishness and pompous pride will not get me far in my ultimate quest of happiness and mental peace, i.e. disrupt my satisfaction with my environment. To live life is to be compromised.
Never the less though, how I view my self and the world around me confirms on some level not only my existence through both mental and physical acknowledgement (as stated above), but also that overall “…I am a thinking thing- a thing that doubts, affirms, denies, understands a few things, is ignorant of many things, wills and refuses.”  Being a singular object moving through time and space while identifying myself by using words like “I” and “me,” I cement my own importance in myself and my standing in this world. By recognizing my own mind and body, feelings and senses, wants and needs, I constantly affirm that I am indeed real. My dreams affirm that my mental conception on all of the above is valid. I exist through will!
In our awaken state of mind, with our bodies tolling throughout the day, we rely on our senses, our conscious morally correct mind, each other and ourselves to relay back to us what we see and know. We exist in this infinite universe by our own mind that transcends what the human eye fails to see. Our senses. “I” symbolizes more then just self-recognition to a bookmark of who we are in this world full of other “I’s.” I am a passive aggressor because inside I am still that disrupted child awaken from a nightmare trying to get even. I’m constantly tricked by my senses leading me to doubt everything, while at the same time doubting my senses will trick me. I am alive and full of life thinking so smugly, that the pulse from my bleeding heart will only expire when my body gives way to the threats of itself or others, rather than thinking that my mind would betray itself and shake loose the parasitic appendage called my body. I fear what the answer really is. And when the time finally comes, shriveled veins dried of life, numb eyes examining a nothingness that has been currently unknown to me; my passing death. I can only hope that my soul, my consciousness, my mind will finally be able to answer with confidence if I truly was living in a dream world built only upon my own understanding of self. If that deadened thud of cerebral apprehension was the cause of my ultimate doubt. If I ever even existed to others as much as I existed to myself. However, until that time comes, I can only mentally confirm silently, cogito ergo sum.
Meditations Of First Philosophy, page 113
 Meditations Of First Philosophy, page 114
 Mediations Of First Philosophy, page 117
 Mediations Of First Philosophy, page 115
 Mediations Of First Philosophy, page 118