A fresh attempt. Let us look into the simplest and most certain of all possible statements. Thought exists, or if you will, Cogitatur.
Descartes supposed himself to have touched bed-rock with his Cogito, ergo Sum.
Huxley pointed out the complex nature of this proposition, and that it was an enthymeme with the premiss Omnes sunt, qui cogitant suppressed. He reduced it to Cogito; or, to avoid the assumption of an ego, Cogitatur.
Examining more closely this statement, we may still cavil at its form. We cannot translate it into English without the use of the verb to be, so, that, after all, existence is implied. Nor do we readily conceive that contemptuous silence is sufficient answer of the further query, "By whom is it thought?" The Buddhist may find it easy to image an act without an agent; I am not so clever. It may be possible for a sane man; but I should like to know more about his mind before I gave a final opinion.
But apart from purely formal objections, we may still inquire: Is this Cogitatur true?
Yes; reply the sages; for to deny it implies thought; Negatur is only a sub-section of Cogitatur.
This involves, however, an axiom that the part is of the same nature as the whole; or (at the very least) an axiom that A is A.
Now, I do not wish to deny that A is A, or may occasionally be A. But certainly A is A is a very different statement to our original Cogitatur.
The proof of Cogitatur, in short, rests not upon itself but upon the validity of our logic; and if by logic we mean (as we should mean) the Code of the Laws of Thought, the irritating sceptic will have many more remarks to make: for it now appears that the proof that thought exists depends upon the truth of that which is thought, to say no more.
We have taken Cogitatur
, to try and avoid the use of esse
; but A is A
involves that very idea,
and the proof is fatally flawed.
Cogitatur depends on Est; and there's no avoiding it.