Thanks to Ingweron for the inspiration!
In City of God, St. Augustine wrote:
“I am most certain I am, and that I know and delight in this. In respect of these truths, I am not at all afraid of the arguments of the Academicians, who say, What if you are deceived? For if I am deceived, I am. For he who is not, cannot be deceived; and if I am deceived, by this same token I am. And since I am if I am deceived, how am I deceived in believing that I am? for it is certain that I am if I am deceived. Since, therefore, I, the person deceived, should be, even if I were deceived, certainly I am not deceived in this knowledge that I am. And, consequently, neither am I deceived in knowing that I know. For, as I know that I am, so I know this also, that I know. “
And in Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes wrote:
But what am I, now that I suppose that there is a certain genius which is extremely powerful, and, if I may say so, malicious, who employs all his powers in deceiving me? Can I affirm that I possess the least of all those things which I have just said pertain to the nature of body? I pause to consider, I revolve all these things in my mind, and I find none of which I can say that it pertains to me. It would be tedious to stop to enumerate them. Let us pass to the attributes of soul and see if there is any one which is in me? What of nutrition or walking [the first mentioned]? But if it is so that I have no body it is also true that I can neither walk nor take nourishment. Another attribute is sensation. But one cannot feel without body, and besides, I have thought I perceived many things during sleep that I recognized in my waking moments as not having been experienced at all. What of thinking? I find here that thought is an attribute that belongs to me; it alone cannot be separated from me. I am, I exist, that is certain.”
St. Augustine and Descartes both assumed an “I” (ego) is indubitable. But how isolated is the ego?
Cloud as a thinking person exists. But Cloud, as he thinks he exists, does not, and his identity relies on his memories. And the more memories Cloud has, the more he questions his identity. Cloud as we, and he knew does not exist.
Everything Cloud thinks about himself is an amalgam of Zack’s identity, Sephiroth’s S-cells (Jenova cells), and Tifa’s memories. Who Cloud is as a thinking person exists, but as thinking person, he has referred to himself as a lie. If the referer constantly refers to himself as a non-existent referent, then how does the referent know he’s real?
Cloud goes into shock thinking an evil genius (e.g. Hojo) has created him. When Cloud endures intense Mako poisoning within the Lifestream, he loses his ability to think. Descartes’ maxim is wrong under any lenses other than solipsism. And St. Augustine’s reasoning couldn’t help Cloud against the evil genius’ Hojo’s lie.
In order to help Cloud find himself, Tifa enacts Descartes’ method of hyperbolic doubt:
- Accepting only information you know to be true;
- breaking down these truths into smaller units;
- solving the simple problems first;
- making complete lists of further problems.
Tifa helps Cloud piece together the memories of his childhood by comparing their memories to find which are true. She encourages Cloud to believe in his existence. Thus, to prove one’s existence, an external agent must act on the self in order to put yourself in context. To go inward and sort yourself out can only lead to solipsism.
Tifa Lockhart > René Descartes & St. Augustine.