Summarize how Descartes defines “I” in the second Meditation.
Don’t just quote his answer; paraphrase WHY he defines the “self” that way. Devote at least one well-developed paragraph to covering his answer. Quote the text and respond to this definition.
• Research how other sources and thinkers define “I’ or “self.” Online dictionaries are a start, but also consider looking at encyclopediae, philosophical dictionaries, and various on-line sources. Find at least three other sources, other than Descartes, to include in your paper somewhere. Pick ones you find interesting or useful, whether to support your definition or to refute.
• Part of defining what something IS is ruling out what something IS NOT. Explain how and why some things people think their “selves” are in fact wrong or illogical or questionable, in your opinion. (See the list provided in class, week four.)
• Define what YOU think the word “self” means. Use as many or as few sources as you want to, just so long as you clearly define this concept and explain WHY you define it that way.
• Based on your definition, can you know whether someone other than “myself”” exists? Maybe “I” exist—but do OTHERS (you, he, they) exist too? How would you know for sure?
• Explore the implications of your definition of “I.” That is, if “self” is defined your way, how would that affect our perceptions of ourselves or how we treat ourselves? How would it affect our knowledge of ourselves and of the world outside our “selves”?
• If at any moment you wish to argue that something is UNKNOWN, in your opinion, you may do so, including the definition of “I” itself. However, show WHY you think it is unknown exactly and explore the implications of that lack of knowledge. Be critical in your confusion, in other words. Don’t just say “I don’t know” and walk away.
• Consider what Socrates might say about your definition, someone critical or skeptical. Anticipate their objections, or better yet, find a source from someone who seems to disagree with your definition. Present these possible objections, and either counter them thoughtfully or concede and compromise with whatever claim you cannot refute.