Proof of Existence
I exist. I have a soul, a mind, and I think. And, as things turn out, my alleged nihilism, even if I had
believed it, would not have been true nihilism. According to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "Nihilism is
the belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated." If we examine my first issue, it can
be seen that, indeed, I wasn't saying that nothing can be known or communicated. I merely denied the existence of everything.
And then I moved further from nihilism in my last issue, talking about the existence of space, time, ambigosity, and occasionally
randomnity as well as vaguer. Therefore, we can be assured that I am not a nihilist. Nor am I a real skeptic, because I wasn't
doubting everything. I was merely denying its existence.
In Issue 48, I stated:
Think of it this way: only being can exist, correct? Correct. Not being cannot exist. Therefore, my hair
cannot have not been not long, because that implies not being. Therefore, my hair was not short. My hair can only be. My hair
is long. Becoming is impossible, because what is not will never be. Change, when we think of it this way, is merely an illusion
created by our flawed perceptions. So says Parmenides.
Clearly, the above argument is flawed no matter how we look at it. The statement, "Becoming is impossible,
because what is not will never be," is flawed. Change is a state of being. Becoming is possible because what is
not may sometime be. The cosmos cannot operate on a level of simply, "Being is," because the cosmos are forever changing.
The world is spinning ever slower (be it ever-so-minutely). The galaxies are moving farther apart. My hair grows several inches
in several months. The river erodes the riverbanks. The atomic bomb destroys a city. My fingernails grow. "Not being" is
not. Such a statement leaves room that what is not may yet be. "Being is" can only be true if we define what "being"
is. Perhaps being is mere existing. Existence does not deny the possibility of change. Existence, quite often, is change.
Therefore, change must be possible, or else being would be impossible, and we would all become sceptics and nihilists of a
I must confess that I did not clearly present Heraclitus. Heraclitus was known as "the obscure." He once
said, "We step into and we do not step into the same rivers. We are and we are not." This is clearly an obscure, confusing
statement. What Heraclitus is saying is that the world is always changing, but with language we have labelled certain things
certain ways. Therefore, a body of flowing water down a narrow channel of a certain size is a "river". I can jump in the Ottawa
River, and every time I do so, I will be jumping in the same river. Yet, as the water is flowing, I am not jumping into the
same water; therefore the river has changed. If we examine the world in the manner of Heraclitus, we see that the world is
in a state of constant flux, yet is concrete enough to be observed. With Heraclitus, we are not nihilists.
As Parmenides and Heraclitus are at two ends of the philosophical spectrum, it would be folly to attempt
to reconcile the two. In the end, what is more logical is to observe the world and see how things operate. I observe the world,
and I know things exist. I see how changing is often being, and see how Being and Not Being can become reconciled.
But even if this were all an illusion created by some great deceiver--or even by my own mind--I cannot deny the existence
of everything. I exist, perhaps even some sort of deceiver as well.
To prove my own existence, let me use the words of René Descartes, who writes:
I myself, am I not at least something? But I have already denied that I had senses and body. Yet I hesitate,
for what follows from that? Am I so dependent on body and senses that I cannot exist without these? But I was persuaded that
there was nothing in all the world, that there was no heaven, no earth, that there were no minds, nor any bodies: was I not
then likewise persuaded that I did not exist? Not at all; of a surety, I myself did exist since I persuaded myself of something
[or merely because I thought of something]. But there is some deceiver or other, very powerful and very cunning, who ever
employs his ingenuity in deceiving me. Then without doubt I exist also if he deceives me, and let him deceive me as much as
he will, he can never cause me to be nothing so long as I think that I am something. So that after having reflected well and
carefully examined all things, we must come to the definite conclusion that this proposition: I am, I exist, is necessarily
true each time that I pronounce it, or that I mentally conceive it.
Through all this, we see that no thing does not exist. I hope to prove various other things to you, notably
that things other than myself exist. We seem to be following the example of Descartes and shall work our way up from the bottom.
I have proved the existence of the Self. We shall go from here, I think.
Descartes, René. "Meditation II"; Anthology of Modern Philosophy. ed. Robinson. (New York: Thomas
Crowell, 1931) p. 167.
Fieser, James ed. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2001. <http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/>
Heraclitus, "Fragments"; A Presocratics Reader. ed. Curd, trans. McKirahahn Jr. (Indianapolis: Hackett,
1996) p. 36.