X. If you really go into it, higher logic shows that the ‘I’ principle or awareness/consciousness is the only ‘thing’ existing, as Krishna Menon puts it: “The evidence [for the existence of the world] proves nothing but the evidence… Ultimately, even if you give up all arguments and say ‘I know the world and so it must exist’, that also cannot hold good, because you cannot know any object except through one of the sense organs. When this is so, it proves again that it is that sense perception or sense alone that is known, and not the object nor the world” (Notes, #216). Nisargadatta, Ramana M, and all non-dualists express themselves in the same or similar manner.
Y. That makes more logical sense to me, the only thing that can be known is what’s sensed. The “I” in “I think therefore I am” can also be incorrect in the sense of I being Self or “it thinks”. However, it also seems rather conceited to place our subjective experience as primary, which is still buying into the illusion of anthropomorphic thinking. Probably the ancient sages did not understand cosmic evolution, chemistry, biology, DNA and all the ways the universe projects us as an artifact of its intelligence. This puts even more emphasis on Self as primary.
X. “the universe projects us as an artifact of its intelligence” Wonderful and witty! You are right about Descartes: Who is the ‘I’ that thinks? The brain, yes – or the man who thinks himself as separate and independent, therefore practically only a brain and four other extremities. The Absolute, ultimate Intelligence (Atma, etc.) does not need to think – it is done for It. Now about the conceit you were mentioning, I think you must know that ‘great saying’ of the Upanishads: ‘Thou art That’. There is only One Self that can be conceited!
You are also right about the danger, or temptation, of anthropomorphism. The only teacher I know of that speaks at times as the unique Subject, ‘I’, is Krishna Menon, and one reads it in awe (of course, he may be just paraphrasing the Absolute!!). But No, ‘he’ knows that ‘he’ is the Absolute: ‘Brahmasmi’, I am Brahman; it is not just a matter of courage, but of conviction or certainty born of experience, that is, knowledge-experience. Item: “If you are going to live as you please, claiming that you are I, how can you accomplish your desire?” – ‘Atma Nirvriti’, Freedom and Felicity in the Self.
KM’s logic is shattering (I think he calls it ‘the logic of the subject’: “The ‘I’ is always the knower and can never be the known. Therefore consciousness and the ‘I’ are one and the same”.