more from A.J. Ayer

Single Idea 19460

[catalogued under 11. Knowledge Aims / B. Certain Knowledge / 5. Cogito Critique]

Full Idea

If there is no experience at all of finding out that one is not conscious, or that one does not exist, is tempting to say that sentences like 'I exist', 'I am conscious', 'I know that I exist' do not express genuine propositions.

Gist of Idea

'I know I exist' has no counterevidence, so it may be meaningless


A.J. Ayer (The Problem of Knowledge [1956], 2.iii)

Book Reference

Ayer,A.J.: 'The Problem of Knowledge' [Penguin 1966], p.48

A Reaction

This is, of course, an application of the somewhat discredited verification principle, but the fact that strictly speaking the principle has been sort of refuted does not mean that we should not take it seriously, and be influenced by it.