The Point of Departure
Problems with the Cartesian Starting Point
Descartes centered his argumentation in the concept of methodic doubt. It follows the accuracy of the description of the consciousness. Contemporary Philosophers would oppose with the Cartesian point of view, concentrating his study on the construction of consciousness. Being concealed from the baseline of subjectivism of course including that of Descartes is a forged image of consciousness which prevents all attempts to break through realism. This consciousness is configured as a container from which the reality is present. What I am aware of, I can say it through my awareness what I am not aware of is outside my awareness. The reality is present inside my consciousness. My consciousness is my consciousness, a subjective occurrence in me; hence if the reality which I know is within my consciousness; it is within me, and my knowledge leaves me locked up inside myself. Descartes stating the problem, his way of describing consciousness, is only possible if the image is operative in his thought. The problem dwells more on winning the other and certifying the varied states of the other. Descartes would usually compare the mind into a container wherein the reality is contained inside it. But this is in contrary from the contemporary philosophers that we cannot seriously compare our consciousness to a container or receptacle. The relation of “being in” in the process of the knowledge contained in the consciousness is best understood in its relationship; the knower in so far as he knows is identical with the known object in so far as it is known.
Descartes was known to be an empiricist; he was very much meticulous of throwing inquiry into empiricism. For if empiricism claims that the occurrence of our sensory representations is sufficient to justify our perceptual judgment, and then it would appear that claim is mistaken. In order to gather the exact rationalization of the apperceptive idea on a certain thing, the necessity of the mind and its interaction with the world is needed for the reason that it would support and eventually substantiate the taking of information embedded in the sense experience to be exact or precise. In the first Meditation of Descartes, he was able to convince himself that there is absolutely nothing in the world, no trees, no cars, no books, no bodies, no earth and no structures of mind. From this veracity he was to bring his doubts to its edge. There is only one thing that he is certain, that he himself exists. This he cannot doubt.
Even if he tries to doubt it, the very fact his act doubting, establishes that the one doubting, exists. “Even if there is a deceiver of supreme power and cunning who is deliberately and constantly deceiving me… I must finally conclude that this proposition, I am, I exist is necessarily true whenever it is put forward by me or conceived in my mind.” From this structure of argument we could already sense that Descartes is a solipsist. He thinks that nothing in the external world exists. He is certain of his own world and the reality it depicts, for all he knows, there nothing besides him. If we follow from this paradigm of Descartes we become collaborator of his principle, we form ourselves to become a solipsistic.
Descartes is very much convinced of his existence and as well as the existence of whatever is going on within one’s mind, such as one’s sensations and thoughts. In order to have something that exists, it is essential to make an argument by taking the possibility of premises with the given data obtainable in one’s mind. In the process of possessing these data’s it will unfasten an access applying the method of doubt and arrived into solipsism. Descartes tried to figure out the ideas he has by giving a concrete diagram in the movement of consciousness about the existence of God as the supreme and all-powerful being. He believes that the idea of God is a perfect being. That God is not just an idea in the mind but he exists in reality. Since we believe that He is perfect, all knowing and good, He would not deceive us, for in deception we find imperfection. Sensation for Descartes is quite deceiving, we are not sure that the objects we perceived are real objects. They are subjects for doubt since we are not sure of its real character. For example a streamer of a well known artist looks round from a distance when it is actually square. If we relied only on the appearances of the moment we might say that the distant tower is round, and we would be wrong. We also know that there are many small organisms invisible to the naked eye. Descartes points out that there are things about which we can be wronged, or there are situations in which we can get counterfeit beliefs, if we rely entirely in our sense at that moment. Even sensation being part of the human faculty is doubted. The knower could not reconcile himself to the object perceived. There is only one certain in this world and that is my existence.
Bi –polarity of Consciousness
The moment we recognize that there is no way of getting outside of consciousness, we become more aware of the salient vantage it points out. To become conscious is already to be outside of oneself. We do not have to break through the container of consciousness, because consciousness is not a container. The consciousness in its circular movement includes always the others. Descartes and Thomas would argue in viewing real movement of self. For Descartes, consciousness is primarily self-consciousness and only derivatively consciousness of the other. This imply that the knowledge of self and other are co- temporaneous and indivisible. I only know myself in knowing the other. When I am aware of the consciousness of the objects which I encounter, I am spontaneously aware of my own ego. But my ego is not a datum given prior to the object; it is given along with it. I learn to say I in distinguishing myself from what is other than myself. I can differentiate my uniqueness by knowing the talents of others. I am good compare to them, for I have already known the negative factors of being bad. Sometimes I could say I am bad because the beauty of goodness surfaced over the identity of being bad. Thus, the act of knowing and verifying depends upon the capacity of the person to distinguish self from non-self. If my consciousness drives me to a deeper thinking, my self-knowledge is cannot be separated from knowledge of the object. The potentiality of the order of cognition is only known through the reasons of its acts, and the reason of their objects. The intellect knows itself in knowing its objects.
St. Thomas often said that human intellect is neither its own act nor its essence. The first known by the human intellect is an object while the second one is the act from where the object is being known. When the mind does the thinking process, the knowing itself has the capacity for reaching others. The truth of resound thinking is known when it reflects upon its act. It is necessary to know the act in order to support the idea of knowledge that is the intellect. But since knowing covers only the single phase of the knowledge it ought to know also the relationship of its act to the thing wherein the relationship is cannot be known without the existence of the nature of the active principle. The ego is capable only of knowing when it reached the other. The emphasis of this notion is put forward to highlight this very fact: the nature of a conscious act is a reference to another; the intelligibility of consciousness is its intentionality. To be aware is to be aware of something. Intentionality is a relational experience. It clearly defines the relationship of the subject to the object. Once the subject grasps the essence of the object the datum that is perceived from the experience is taken transcendentally. This will connect the concreteness of the thing perceived and the content in the mind. But the knower does not remain in his consciousness alone but he draws out in order to widen his perspective of a certain thing. For Husserl every conscious act intends something. Consciousness is consciousness of something other than itself. If the act is present primarily the object is also present. Therefore the nature of the object is co-determined by the nature of the act. Consciousness does not only find the feature of the subject but its very essence is to form a meaning, to give meaning to the object. A purely subjective awareness does not help us in getting away from the subjectivity to objectivity. Descartes in his cogito-self said that he is aware of his indubitable self and unaware of the existence of others. But when we follow this perspective we will not be unsuccessful in discovering our real self in relation to what is other than myself. Consciousness is given as relational; it is bi-polar. But Descartes somehow failed to view this relationship. For him the existence of the objective pole is subject for doubt, in as much as the subject too. In viewing it empirically the subject is closely related to the object. The separation of self to non-self will lead him into the stage of solipsism, whereas if he allows himself to reach the object through his experience of the non-self, he could immediately deepen his relation towards the object. Therefore in knowing the non-self, I had already known myself. Hence, Descartes could not determine his real self if he linger on himself alone. The empirical ego moves closer to the object while the postulated absolute ego impedes the close relationship.
Being- in- a- world
Marcel regards the cogito as an abstraction, a subject which is conceived as the limit of the evacuation of content from the experienced self- but not an existent. Man’s being is a being in a situation. The self is an existential indubitable is the self as incarnate in the body and as manifest in the world. It is my body which attaches me in the world. This fundamental awareness that I own my body and the world associates it. It is my body that sets me down from other real beings. The “I” of experience is given as a focal point within englobing situation; hence the real indubitable is the confused and global experience of the world in as much as it is existent. The cogito is a derivative construction and in danger of being mere abstraction. I am not a pure subjectivity but subjectivity by participation. I am not a being plus participation; I am being by participation. My existence may extend in its level, but every level founds the experience if subjectivity. Marcel emphasizes communion rather than incarnation. I become a spiritually enriched person by partaking in the act of communion to other spiritual beings. I am not thinking of myself alone but of others too. When I am in the pedestal of communion I am no longer in the natural attitude because the experience I had is pulling me towards transcendence.
Heidegger has in common with Marcel that the location of philosophy cannot be located in the realm of knowledge. The self must be along the cognitive lines that it always tends to become a purely thinking subject. Instead of talking about the knowledge of a knower we should redirect the content of knowing through human reality wherein it is grounded in the prospect of knowledge itself. Man is Dasein, the being through which the being is exposed. Man’s knowledge is not a difficulty of knowing the world, but it is the being that permits the question of world to be raised. As soon as there is Dasein there is world, for Dasein is being in the world. The world is the associate of Dasein, and Dasein is the openness of the world. The world is a referential totality of meaning, and it is there in every relation of Dasein toward any every specific worldly item. Every object employs an entirety of meanings, these meanings are already in me and it allows me to recognize this object as something to employ. Dasein finds the world as already here in his own body. Descartes believed that Dasein is a kind of thing. Things are only there for Dasein because it has a primordial world. What comes first is not the awareness but being correlated in the world. Dasein polarizes the entities of experience and occupies a world.
Jose Ortega y Gasset simply insists that if philosophy wants to discover the most radical reality of human existence as its point of departure, it ultimately discovers the self as the dynamic exchange with the other. Our existence is our openness to the world, and meaning is the face which the world presents within the openness which we are. The primary conscious experience proves that I exist within the community through a dialogue. Empirically speaking my individual self is confined within the language that is a product of my individual self. I expressed more than my own existence if I patterned my consciousness through dialogue.
As an embodied subject I am a man being in the world. My body is the link to the world. The objects around me are not simply objects without a meaning but they form also a network of meanings. Even though I am standing in the same position, my presence reflects on the things around me. I am the one who gives meaning to their existence. The world becomes a world when I appreciate its existence and essence. Consciousness is consciousness of something other than consciousness. There is no world if the consciousness is absent. Thus, the world becomes a world when there is consciousness. The consciousness of the person or the knower determines the existence of the objects around me.