I THINK therefore I AM

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richrf
 
Reply Sun 21 Jun, 2009 09:44 am
Hi all,

I always felt that Descartes famous statement is imbued with great irony. When Descartes famously said:

I think therefore I am

he basically described the continuum that exists between the Mind (what I call Consciousness) and the physical body.

Think of Consciousness as being the most ethereal of all substances - e.g. fundamental. Think of the physical body as a condensation of Consciousness (ethereal) into something more dense (physical matter).

Alex Gray's paintings captures this idea:

http://kundaliniyoga.homestead.com/files/kund_alex_gray.jpg

Consciousness creates the physical body by spiraling itself in like a string being wound around and around itself, such as you would if you wanted to make a ball out of string (the metaphor of modern physic's string theory comes into play here).

So when Descartes exclaimed I think therefore I am he actually was describing something very, very different from dualism. Instead of being separated, Consciousness and Physical Body are a continuum of the same. All intertwined and connected like waves in an ocean.

I wonder if he realized it and was just afraid to articulate it because of the religious times. Maybe he was misinterpreted? Maybe he didn't even realize it himself. Who knows? But the irony always strikes me as being very amusing and exciting.

Rich
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Sun 21 Jun, 2009 10:51 am
@richrf,
To quote Nietzsche, "I am therefore I think".

The other one is just a bunch of crap. I mean, what is thinking?
 
richrf
 
Reply Sun 21 Jun, 2009 11:17 am
@Holiday20310401,
Holiday20310401;70847 wrote:
To quote Nietzsche, "I am therefore I think".

The other one is just a bunch of crap. I mean, what is thinking?


Thinking is what you are doing when you are asleep, when there is no physical body or four dimensional space.

Nature loves to hide. [Heraclitus]

Natures loves to leave clues.
[Rich]

Rich
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Sun 21 Jun, 2009 11:33 am
@richrf,
Yes ok, so consciousness does not do the thinking. Thinking is a brain function. So how does one get from the Descartes quote to this.

richrf;70832 wrote:

Consciousness creates the physical body by spiraling itself in like a string being wound around and around itself, such as you would if you wanted to make a ball out of string (the metaphor of modern physic's string theory comes into play here).


I hear cats like to play around with balls of string...
 
Dave Allen
 
Reply Sun 21 Jun, 2009 11:34 am
@richrf,
CARTESIAN, adj. Relating to Descartes, a famous philosopher, author of the celebrated dictum, Cogito ergo sum - whereby he was pleased to suppose he demonstrated the reality of human existence. The dictum might be improved, however, thus: Cogito cogito ergo cogito sum - "I think that I think, therefore I think that I am;" as close an approach to certainty as any philosopher has yet made.

From "the Devil's Dictionary".
 
richrf
 
Reply Sun 21 Jun, 2009 11:40 am
@Dave Allen,
Hi all,

Thanks for your replies and thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Rich
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 21 Jun, 2009 12:56 pm
@richrf,
richrf;70832 wrote:
Hi all,

I always felt that Descartes famous statement is imbued with great irony. When Descartes famously said:

I think therefore I am

he basically described the continuum that exists between the Mind (what I call Consciousness) and the physical body.

onsciousness creates the physical body by spiraling itself in like a string being wound around and around itself, such as you would if you wanted to make a ball out of string (the metaphor of modern physic's string theory comes into play here).

So when Descartes exclaimed I think therefore I am he actually was describing something very, very different from dualism. Instead of being separated, Consciousness and Physical Body are a continuum of the same. All intertwined and connected like waves in an ocean.

I wonder if he realized it and was just afraid to articulate it because of the religious times. Maybe he was misinterpreted? Maybe he didn't even realize it himself. Who knows? But the irony always strikes me as being very amusing and exciting.

Rich


Except that Descartes denied that the "I" referred to the material body, so there was no irony.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sun 21 Jun, 2009 04:06 pm
@kennethamy,
But you gotta love the way Descartes begs the question, huh?
 
richrf
 
Reply Sun 21 Jun, 2009 04:12 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;70882 wrote:
But you gotta love the way Descartes begs the question, huh?


Hi,

I love it. The irony. The ambiguity. The definitiveness. But definitiveness about what. Was he playing tricks with us? Was he trying to hide stuff so that he would not have the Church come down on him? Was his mind playing tricks with him??

This quote, for me, is like the smile of Mona Lisa.

Rich
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sun 21 Jun, 2009 04:15 pm
@richrf,
There is nothing definitive about his claim. It's nonsense, contains a glaring logical flaw. His premise presupposes his conclusion. It's junk. It's hard to believe that his proposition was taken so seriously for such a long time. And I'm quite glad we have over come taking Descartes seriously.
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Sun 21 Jun, 2009 05:24 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;70885 wrote:
There is nothing definitive about his claim. It's nonsense, contains a glaring logical flaw. His premise presupposes his conclusion. It's junk. It's hard to believe that his proposition was taken so seriously for such a long time. And I'm quite glad we have over come taking Descartes seriously.


How could he not be taken seriously? Whether or not Descartes intended the rhetorical device of arguing from authority or not that is how his arguments about self and god were received by the public. Joe Public: "well he's a world renowned mathematician and scientist, what he says about other stuff must be credible." Aside from that, its what the world wanted to hear, both seemingly rational yet undeniably religiously affirming. There is no denying, however, the profound effect he has had on modern thought. Cogito ergo sum has permeated modern western culture to the point that its being illogical doesn't really matter. It is logically accepted because it is accepted not because it is logical.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sun 21 Jun, 2009 05:33 pm
@GoshisDead,
How could it not be taken seriously? Easy: if it were examined critically. Begging the question was recognized prior to Descartes as dubious.

I get the context and why his philosophy became so popular, but this is an example of western ignorance, a culturally pervasive ignorance by which we refuse to consider our selves as something other than the center of the universe. It's culturally pervasive egoism and, philosophically, tremendously silly. You're right: it's what we wanted to hear.
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Sun 21 Jun, 2009 05:52 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
I agree that the whole thing is intellectually sloppy at best. People are people and are more willing to accept things they already agree with. They tend to look fro credible people to say incredible things, so that they feel better about what they already think. It happens in all circles, even the most 'intellectually elite'. Change en mass normally is an intergenerational thing no matter how much people on the fringe try to 'make them see reason'
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 21 Jun, 2009 06:06 pm
@richrf,
richrf;70884 wrote:
Hi,

I love it. The irony. The ambiguity. The definitiveness. But definitiveness about what. Was he playing tricks with us? Was he trying to hide stuff so that he would not have the Church come down on him? Was his mind playing tricks with him??

This quote, for me, is like the smile of Mona Lisa.

Rich


No. What he says, quite plainly, that he was doing, was trying to find one certainty on which he could build "the edifice of knowledge" (as he called it). He called it his "Archimedian Point" because as you may know, Archimedes discovered the principle of the lever, and famously said, "Give me a place to stand, and I will move the Earth!" And, by analogy, Descartes believed that the Cogito was his place to stand which was certain, and absolutely firm, and that, standing in that place, he could build the edifice of certain knowledge and defeat skepticism forever. No playing, no smiles, no Mona Lisas. Just the epistemological theory called, "foundationalism". I suggest that you read, at least, his Discourse on the Method, the first part of which is autobiographical, and, rather than speculating on what he had in mind, you could actually find out, from him, what he had in mind. A more fruitful method.

---------- Post added at 08:09 PM ---------- Previous post was at 08:06 PM ----------

GoshisDead;70893 wrote:
How could he not be taken seriously? Whether or not Descartes intended the rhetorical device of arguing from authority or not that is how his arguments about self and god were received by the public. Joe Public: "well he's a world renowned mathematician and scientist, what he says about other stuff must be credible." Aside from that, its what the world wanted to hear, both seemingly rational yet undeniably religiously affirming. There is no denying, however, the profound effect he has had on modern thought. Cogito ergo sum has permeated modern western culture to the point that its being illogical doesn't really matter. It is logically accepted because it is accepted not because it is logical.


Eh, why is it not "logical" (whatever that might mean)? the Cogito is an argument (since there is a "therefore") what do you think is illogical about it?
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sun 21 Jun, 2009 06:20 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;70900 wrote:

Eh, why is it not "logical" (whatever that might mean)? the Cogito is an argument (since there is a "therefore") what do you think is illogical about it?


The premise presupposes the conclusion.
 
Kielicious
 
Reply Sun 21 Jun, 2009 06:27 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;70882 wrote:
But you gotta love the way Descartes begs the question, huh?



Thats the problem with self-evident truths. Wink


But the thing about foundations and axioms is that in essence you are right, they are circular. But does that necessarily mean they are fallacious or wrong? I dont think so. A foundation has to be relative unto itself, which is why its circular --there is nothing to compare it or have significant reference to.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sun 21 Jun, 2009 06:39 pm
@Kielicious,
Kielicious;70909 wrote:
Thats the problem with self-evident truths. Wink


Sort of. Descartes' maxim appears self evident, but I would contend this is just appealing to what we would want to be true as opposed to recognizing what is true.

Kielicious;70909 wrote:
But the thing about foundations and axioms is that in essence you are right, they are circular. But does that necessarily mean they are fallacious or wrong? I dont think so. A foundation has to be relative unto itself, which is why its circular --there is nothing to compare it or have significant reference to.


Unless, of course, they are meaningless. That's essentially what Kierkegaard argues about when he criticizes Descartes' maxim. Not only is it circullar, but it's logically insignificant.

Descartes was trying to find something that he could be certain of, but he fails because he presupposes what he is trying to be certain about: he never manages to actually doubt that he exists because he presupposes his existence in the argument for his existence.
 
Kielicious
 
Reply Sun 21 Jun, 2009 06:47 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;70912 wrote:
Sort of. Descartes' maxim appears self evident, but I would contend this is just appealing to what we would want to be true as opposed to recognizing what is true.


Descartes was trying to find something that he could be certain of, but he fails because he presupposes what he is trying to be certain about: he never manages to actually doubt that he exists because he presupposes his existence in the argument for his existence.



As much as I want to agree with you, I cannot even remotely imagine how doubting your own existence is logically coherent. Perhaps you can enlighten me, but I cannot come up with even a somewhat valid scenario.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sun 21 Jun, 2009 06:53 pm
@Kielicious,
Kielicious;70913 wrote:
As much as I want to agree with you, I cannot even remotely imagine how doubting your own existence is logically coherent. Perhaps you can enlighten me, but I cannot come up with even a somewhat valid scenario.


Descartes said we should give it a try.

It seems to me that when we doubt that "I" exist, we are questioning the true nature of our self. It is evident that something exists, but we have to ask what that something actually is.
 
Kielicious
 
Reply Sun 21 Jun, 2009 07:08 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;70914 wrote:
Descartes said we should give it a try.

It seems to me that when we doubt that "I" exist, we are questioning the true nature of our self. It is evident that something exists, but we have to ask what that something actually is.



True he said that but when he actually tried to come up with a scenario where he was being fooled by an evil demon, his conclusions came to the idea that he couldnt conceive of himself not existing.
 
 

 
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