In Cognito Ergo Sum

By the way, how do you know that I exist?

You read my blog. Someone has to write it. Therefore it must be me. Right?

But how do you know it’s me? How do you know it’s the me that I have represented myself to be, here, with these very pixels? Have you ever met me? Have you ever sat at a table with me and eaten a burger with me? Even if you have, was it enough to get to know me well enough that you’d swear in court that the person you met is the same one who writes this blog?

How do you know I’m telling the truth?

Do you know someone who knows me better than you do? Can you really trust them? How well do they know me?

How do you – or they – know that I’ve done the things I’ve said I’ve done, or been the person I’ve described here, or that I’m not an amalgam of several other bloggers who all log in with the same user name and password, edited by one particular partner for style?

If I do exist ….

How do you know I went to Harding? Married twice? Lost my dad to a coronary episode? Have two adopted children? Attend a church? Used to watch too much Star Trek?

How do you know I wasn’t fathered by a Roman soldier, don’t have an identical twin brother named Thomas, didn’t marry a nice Jewish girl named Mary and start a divine dynasty, and didn’t fake my own death or coerce one of my close friends into orchestrating it so that I could be free of this corrupted mortal body?

Is it possible that you actually believe what some others say who have met me, talked to me or even know me pretty well? That you swallow wholesale what they have to say about me because they have no real reason to lie to you about me? That you accept without demand for proof that I live fairly transparently and am, for the most part, a WYSIWYG kind of person?

Is it conceivable that you believe I exist and write this blog because all of the other possibilities fail to meet Occam’s Razor; that they’re too complex and improbable to be of consequence?

Is it acceptable to do so because I am really a person of relatively minor consequence – but if I started making difficult demands on you and claimed to hold your destiny in my hands and proved that I loved you deeply and completely by taking an extravagantly sacrifical loss in order to profit you … wouldn’t it just be a whole lot easier to say, “Look, I’m not even sure Keith Brenton exists. It’s just a name on a blog, after all.

“There’s no proof he was ever real.

“Who would do something like that, anyway?”

Who, indeed?

Sad to say, it almost certainly wouldn’t be me.

It’d be the One I try so desperately and so pathetically to emulate.

It’d be the ultimately WYSIWYG Person.

It’d be the One who took the loss for my profit.

It’d be You-know-Who.

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5 thoughts on “In Cognito Ergo Sum

  1. Interesting metaphor! At first I wasn’t sure where you were going with it. It seems to lose a lil bit though, with the fact that, although I don’t really know you, I do know that you at least exist and that at least SOME of the things that you’ve written about, I know have happened. Although, I haven’t had time to read all your posts yet, as i just recently found your blog. However, i might actually get to all of them eventually, as I’m not a frequent blogger, but could sit for hours reading others’ writings! Especially if they’re as good as yours. –a PV newcomer

  2. This IS a very interesting post, Keith. I wasn’t sure where you were going, either, when you started. Reminds me a bit of some of Patrick Mead’s posts over at Tent Pegs, although he’s now moved that type of posting over to his new blog. I’d link to them, but I think you have them both linked from here already (I could go look, couldn’t I?)Some of the questions you raise would be interesting to hear in a “real” discussion with some skeptics and/or in perhaps a college philosophy class. In fact, were you reading Patrick’s blog way back when – as in sometime in the first 2 or 3 months of last year (2005)? He wrote a post about the day he stumbled into a large college philosophy class while waiting for one of his own classes as an adjunct professor to begin and started asking the professor pertinent questions about the topic and how that went. It was one of his best posts and really hilarious, as well as very vital and important to critical questioning, I thought. In fact, I need to go back and read it again. (It would be at Tent Pegs).And I have our good blogger friend, David U, to thank for me reading it. When I was confined here at home the very first time last year and was rather down at the time (boy, THAT seems a long time ago now here on my 3rd round with Katrina in between and all), he told me to check out Patrick because his posts had great lessons while being really funny, and he was right.It’s interesting that while I’ve been sitting here reading your post about how we know each other I’ve had the TV on in the background on Dr. Phil, no less, and it’s all about how we judge each other by how we look, i.e., that good looking, attractive people are treated much differently and “reacted to” much differently than people who aren’t so physically attractive. He sent his son Jay out in cognito in makeup to totally change his appearance and people treated him very shabbily. Not one person all day made eye contact with him. Not one. I think many people do the same with Jesus. Just sort of skirt around the edges and never really delve into who He really is.Good post. Lots to think about.Cheers! Dee

  3. umm… for the record, I may not have eaten a burger with you, but my wife and I have had coffee with you and Angi at a Panera in Bloomington, Indiana…I get your post, though… and it’s a good one. Thanks!

  4. From the mind of Keith Brenton….for a minute there I had the Bones / Spock confused conversation expression.I do know of a “false blogger” who has created a false identity in order to make comments without anyone knowing who it really is.

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