The answer I am – proof of one’s existence as a thinking entity or self – opens up the much larger question of, who am I? What sort of thinking entity or self am I?
Secular novelist Stephen Vizinczey responded to this larger question by claiming that, “Only action can testify to the validity of thoughts and emotions: action alone verifies the personality. It is the only form of authentic self-expression: I act; therefore, I know who I am.”
Ah, the personality. The validity of thoughts and emotions entails some form of thinking preceding the act, yet an act completed in atomized isolation will not reveal my personality as an act-or, least of all, to myself.
Personality draws in thinkers like the Scottish philosopher John Macmurray, who stated, “It is in and through my consciousness of other persons alone that I can know myself as a person.” And “There is no ‘I’ without a ‘You’…This mutuality of the personal is the basic fact of religion.”
So, where does that leave us?
I think, therefore, I am
I act, therefore I know who I am
I think and act, but it is only through the consciousness of other persons alone that I know who I am
I am and know I am because you are
And ending with
Without you, I cannot know who I am.