Jonathan Tuckett - The Cartesian Meditation of Pneuma: the Dasein of a Video Game Character

This is one of the papers from our 2017 Annual Conference, the Future of Phenomenology. Information and the full conference booklet can be found at

“A few seconds ago there was nothing. But now, here I am! There’s only one logical conclusion. I am God and this is my universe.”

The opening line to Pneuma: Breath of Life sets the scene for a video game that attempts something very odd for a video game to make the theme of its main story: Descartes’ cogito ergo sum—“I think, therefore I am”. Yet, this is exactly what this puzzle game seems to do; going so far, as the opening line indicates, as to critique Descartes’ formulation to suggest that the Cogito would think itself to be God. To a seasoned philosopher this “conclusion” may seem questionable, indeed some of the meditations that Pneuma proceeds to make from its position of deity would strike us as absurd and philosophically unsophisticated. But, as this paper means to show, this would be the very point of the game’s philosophical exploration: to show the absurdity of the Cartesian Meditation itself. Once this point is recognised, Pneuma reveals itself not to be an exploration of the Cogito, but an exploration of the being of Dasein. As such, contained in the seemingly absurd meditations of Pneuma are novel reflections on Heidegger’s notions of being-toward-death, authenticity and the they-self.


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