more from A.J. Ayer

Single Idea 19461

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

Full Idea

To know that one exists is not to know anything about oneself any more than knowing that 'this' exists is knowing anything about 'this'.

Gist of Idea

Knowing I exist reveals nothing at all about my nature


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

Book Reference

Ayer,A.J.: 'The Problem of Knowledge' [Penguin 1966], p.52

A Reaction

Descartes proceeds to define himself as a 'thinking thing', inferring that thinking is his essence. Ayer casts nice doubt on that.