French philosopher René Descartes (1596-1650) proposed “the cogito” as demonstrating the most fundamental epistemological principle upon which all knowledge is based.
“I suppose, accordingly, that all the things which I see are false; fictitious. I believe that none of those objects which my fallacious memory represents ever existed; I suppose that I possess no senses; I believe that body, figure, extension, motion, and place are merely fictions of my mind. What is there, then, that can be esteemed true? Perhaps this only, that there is absolutely nothing certain. But how do I know that there is not something different altogether from the objects I have now enumerated, of which it is impossible to entertain the slightest doubt? Is there not a God, or some being, by whatever name I may designate Him, who causes these thoughts to arise in my mind? But why suppose such a Being, for it may be I myself am capable of producing them? Am I, then, at least not something? But I before denied that I possessed senses or a body; I hesitate, however, for what follows from that? Am I so dependent on the body and the senses that without these I cannot exist? But I had the persuasion that there was absolutely nothing in the world, that there was no sky and no earth, neither minds nor bodies; was I not, therefore, at the same time, persuaded that I did not exist? Far from it; I assuredly existed, since I was persuaded. But there is I know not what being, who is possessed at once of the highest power and the deepest cunning, who is constantly employing all his ingenuity in deceiving me. Doubtless, then, I exist, since I am deceived; and, let him deceive me as he may, he can never bring it about that I am nothing, so long as I shall be conscious that I am something. So that it must, in fine, be maintained, all things being maturely and carefully considered, that this proposition: I am, I exist; is necessarily true each time it is expressed by me, or conceived in my mind.”
Reading: Public Domain Librivox recording of “Meditation II” from “Meditations on First Philosophy” http://www.archive.org/details/meditations_descartes_dew_librivox
Audio: “Apreludes (in C Sharp Major)” by Stars of the Lid http://www.amazon.com/Their-Refinement-Decline-Stars-Lid/dp/B000NIIUX8
Anatomical Drawings from “Dream Anatomy” http://www.nlm.nih.gov/dreamanatomy/index.html