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Ted Ed. James Zucker. How do you know you're real?

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How do you know you're real? It's an obvious question until you try to answer it. But let's take it seriously. How do you really know you exist? In his "Meditations on First Philosophy" Rene Decartes tried to answer that very question demolishing all his preconceived notions and opinions to begin again from the foundations. All his knowledge had come from his sensory perceptions of the word. Same as you, right? You know you are watching this video with your eyes, hearing it with your ears, your senses show you the world as it is, they aren't deceiving you. But sometimes they do. You might mistake a person faraway for someone else. Or you are sure you are about to catch a fly ball and it hits the ground in front of you But... come on! Right here and now you know what's right in front of you is real. Your eyes, your hands, your body - that's you! Only crazy people would deny that, and you know you are not crazy. Anyone who doubt that must be dreaming. Oh, no... what if you are dreaming? Dreams feel real. You can believe you are swimming, flying or fighting off monsters with your bare hands, when your real body is lying in bed. No, no, no. When you're awake you know you're awake... h'm... but when you aren't, you don't know you aren't. So, you can't prove you aren't dreaming. Maybe the body you perceive yourself to have isn't really there. Maybe all of reality, even its abstract concepts like time, shape, color and number, are false: all just deceptions concocted by... an evil genius! No, seriously, Decartes asks if you can disprove the idea that an "evil genius" demon has tricked you into believing that reality is real. Perhaps, this diabolical deceiver has duped you. The world, your perceptions of it, your very body - you can't disprove that they are all just made up. And how could you exist without them? You couldn't. So, you don't! Life is but a dream. And I bet you aren't row-row-rowing the boat merrily at all, are you? No, you're rowing it wearily like the duped, non-existent doof you are /aren't. Do you find that convincing? Are you persuaded? If you aren't - good! If you are - even better! Because by being persuaded you prove that you're a persuaded being. You can't be nothing if you think you are something, even if you think that something is nothing. Because no matter what you think, you're a thinking thing. Or as Decartes put it: "I think, therefore I am" And so are you. Really.

Video Details

Duration: 3 minutes and 2 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: Animated
Producer: Ted Ed
Views: 291
Posted by: irarmy on Sep 8, 2014

How do you know you’re real? Is existence all just a big dream? Has some mad scientist duped us into simply believing that we exist? James Zucker investigates all of these questions (and more) in this mind-boggling tribute to René Descartes’s "Meditations on First Philosophy."

Lesson by James Zucker, animation by Stretch Films, Inc.

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