Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am.” Personally, I prefer “I am, and I think; therefore, I think I am.” To say “I,” as in “I think,” already implies “I am.” This beingness already exists before you think, and it’s already felt and used before “think” follows when writing “I think.” Therefore “I am, therefore, I think” might have been more accurate, except that I don’t think you have to think to be.
Yes though, I am aware that “I think, therefore I am” is meant to be a deductive relation rather than a causal one. But either it is logically possible to think and not be, in which case “I am” doesn’t necessarily follow from “I think” (deductively), or the statement is mere logical/semantical tautology (since we are defining being as including thinking a priori) and therefore cannot say anything significant about oneself or the universe, and “I am” becomes something much less than what it purports to be.
In other worlds, I guess you could say that “I think,” then there is an “I” that’s doing the thinking by definition, but if we’re merely dealing with definitions then we’re not deriving any ontological truth; all logical deductions are tautologies. And if we don’t take it to be true by definition, then it’s not proven; all we can say is “there is thought” or “thinking is occurring,” whilst who is to say that there is an “I” and all the things an “I’ entails behind the thoughts or the thinking?
Also, I believe that using the word “I” implies being, and using the word “am” implies being. “I am” is therefore reflecting the same thing in two separate metaphorical mirrors, which just goes to show that language, or logic, is just being used in this case as an attempt to reunify that which it itself had divided. (Also, since “I” implies “am,” the “therefore I am” part is superfluous because “I” is already included in the “I think” part; but I guess you could say that’s the point, that’s one reason the statement “I think, therefore I am” is satisfying and truistic.)
Conversely, thinking to oneself “I am” cannot logically be false, because if it were false, then you would not be and therefore you could not think that you are. So saying, “I am” suffices as the self-evident truth, no need to bring in “I think.”
I mentioned earlier that it’s not proven that an “I” and everything than an “I” entails follows from “there is thought.” What are some of those things? I’ll list a few things here that tend to be implied by an “I.” While some or all of these attributes aren’t logical necessities, it may be natural to associate some of these properties with an “I” when thinking “I think, therefore I am” without realizing it’s not proven.
- A unified/coherent self/entity
- A mind with its accompanying psyche, emotions, memory, history, fears, desires, beliefs, current mind state, etc.
- A context of experience/external reality
- Personal relationships with everything in one’s contextual experience.
- A body
So anyway, despite the fact that “I think, therefore I am” is supposed to be the most basic self-evident axiom, I don’t believe it says anything. If it’s really derivable from pure logic, then it’s just a trivial reflection of logical axioms. If it’s not, then it might as well be a plain statement of fact instead of a deduction, in which case my own formulation, “I am, and I think; therefore, I think I am,” is more sound. The entity exists, and it so happens that he thinks, and because he exists, his thinking apparatus is cognizant of that, so he thinks that he exists, thinking that one exists not being a requirement for existence—instead thinking and existing are two phenomena, and “I think I am” is their ensuing synthesis.