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.
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.
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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?