Descartes: Pied Piper

Reply Thu 5 Jan, 2006 09:13 am
Descartes: Pied Piper

I was educated in engineering but also had some interest in philosophy. My first philosophy course was Descartes' "Meditations on First Philosophy". I suspect this is an introductory course for most students studying philosophy. Descartes has left Western tradition with a gigantic legacy that only now is this legacy being undermined by cognitive science.

Descartes goes through a sequence of analysis in an effort to find an absolute truth upon which to build his philosophy. He settled on "Cogito, ergo sum". "I think therefore I am". The conclusions of this series of analysis by Descartes have set the course, more or less, of Western philosophy. What are the fateful conclusions derived from the work of Descartes?

"I am, I exist, that is certain. But how often? Just when I think; for it might possibly be the case if I ceased entirely to think, that I should likewise cease altogether to exist...But what then am I? A thing that thinks."

The Folk Theory of Essences
Every kind of thing has an essence that makes it the kind of thing it is.
The way each thing naturally behaves is a consequence of its essence.

Descartes knows he exists because he thinks. Because he exists he has an essence. He assumes nothing else causes his thinking but his essence. Conclusion: thinking must be at least a part of the human essence.

"Just because I know certainly that I exist, and that meanwhile I do not remark that any other thing necessarily pertains to my nature or essence, excepting that I am a thinking thing, I rightly conclude that my essence consists solely in the fact that I am a thinking thing."

"It is certain that this I [that is to say, my soul by which I am what I am], is entirely, and absolutely distinct from my body and can exist without it."

To have reached that last conclusion Descartes must assume an additional:

The Folk Theory of Substance and Attributes
A substance is that which exists in itself and does not depend for its existence on any other thing.
Each substance has one and only one primary attribute that defines what its essence is.

The following is what his introspection has made him "see":

There are two kinds of substance, one bodily and the other mental.
The attribute of bodily substance is extension in space.
The attribute of mental substance is thought.
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Reply Thu 5 Jan, 2006 09:17 am
more dualism poppycock.
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queen annie
Reply Thu 5 Jan, 2006 12:54 pm
Truth is binary.
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Reply Fri 6 Jan, 2006 07:05 am
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queen annie
Reply Fri 6 Jan, 2006 11:27 am
"We see the world of objects as separate from the world of minds, allowing us to envision souls and an afterlife; and our system of social understanding infers goals and desires, where none exist, making us animists and creationists."


We make reality seem arbitrarily dualistic--instead of infinite (0) and unified (1).

Binary, not dual. Two characteristics, not two separate 'being-nesses.'

One day we will surely rise above dualism for good.
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Reply Fri 6 Jan, 2006 11:41 am
ah yes, bounded infinity. quite the concept. would that be octal as in "i eight the whole thing?"
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queen annie
Reply Fri 6 Jan, 2006 03:18 pm
No, octal as in 'octave'--a complete complement of vibrational harmony.

It is intriguing, to me, that you would refer to 'unity' as being 'bound.' It is not at all the same thing--'unified infinity' is not a paradox or oxymoron, like 'bound infinity' is.

Unity -- combined; joined; made one/of or resulting from joint action or association/in agreement or harmony

Bounded -- confined by or as by binding; tied/closely connected or related/certain; sure; destined/bound to lose/under compulsion; obliged/deeply devoted to/implicated or involved in
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