I Think...

in Deep Dives8 months ago

Philosophy. Some scientists will say that it's not a real science at all, while others will claim it's the mother of all sciences. Personally I find it hard to categorize, but I do know for sure that philosophy gives us the tools to think about, examine and study the most fundamental of questions about about existence, reason, values and knowledge itself. And it's fun also.


descartes_small.jpg

source: YouTube

You'll have recognized that the title of this post is the first half of René Descartes' most famous statement: "I think, therefore I am." I haven't read Descartes or any other famous thinker, except some of Karl Marx's works, but I've read a lot about them and watched a boat-load of videos on the subject of philosophy. A week ago or so I stumbled across this video about the origin of Descates' famous statement and found it so thoroughly interesting I had to share it with you all. Also, as much of philosophy is about studying thought processes, it's mighty interesting to dive into the thought process of Descartes himself and see how he came about the premise and conclusion that's made him so famous.

Descartes was part of a group of philosophers called "rationalists." In philosophy, "rationalism" is the theory that reason in and of itself, rather than sensory experience, is the foundation of certainty in knowledge. Rationalists believe that reason alone, without experience, is the basis of certainty in knowledge, that some truths are innately known to us. They are the counterparts to "empiricists" who believe that all knowledge is derived from experience, from observation of what's "out there." Descartes' train of thought, leading him to the statement "I think, therefore I am," is quite straightforward really. Or so it seems at least. He started from the point where everything we seem to know is in doubt. Everything. He introduces us to a concept I've often used in my posts, for example the ones in which I've explored the possibility that we live in The Matrix or the simulation hypothesis; the brain in a vat. He used the idea of a "malicious demon," capable of deceiving all our senses to the point that the reality of everything, even one's own body, is in doubt. I believe he used this demon because in his time people weren't yet able to conceive of a brain wired to a virtual-reality computer, which is a score for the empiricists by the way ;-)

His train of thought then reached a point where he even started doubting his own memories; these could have been replaced by the demon as well, couldn't they? But when he started doubting the act of thinking itself, he stumbled upon the one thing that is undoubtedly true. Doubting your own thought, in the end, is a thought in itself. If I doubt my own thoughts, there must be a "me" who's doing the doubting, regardless of what form that "me" exists in, the "me" exists. Now, I've sped through this, as it's getting late already and I have to wake up early tomorrow morning, but there's a lot more to this, so I invite you all to watch the below linked video; it goes into the debate that exists about the true meaning of Descartes' statement and more. I hope you'll find it interesting and thought-provoking...


Descartes' Most Famous Idea | Explained


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Descartes is one of the philosophers who most caught my attention when I studied modern philosophy, since we can say that he is the father of modernity. His famous phrase "Cogito, Ergo sum" is revolutionary in many aspects. Certainly rationalism has been a philosophical current with important contributions to the development of the history of human thought. I liked your post very much.

Thanks so much for the kind words @filoriologo ! :-)

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Thanks again for your support! It's really appreciated :-)

I find Descartes' cogito to be one of the most ironclad discoveries in philosophy. The system he built on top of it though is widely considered to be rubbish!

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