Cogito ergo sum. Descartes famous words. What do they actually mean to us?

Discussion in 'Serious Discussion' started by SOCRATE_MMXII, Aug 30, 2012.

  1. SOCRATE_MMXII

    SOCRATE_MMXII MDL Expert

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    #1 SOCRATE_MMXII, Aug 30, 2012
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    I have extracted these posts and have put them into a new topic. Yen.


    Poor Descartes, without knowing (or did he?) mislead the humankind on a false path. I am NOT thoughts, nor feelings nor actions. I AM. ;)
     
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  2. Yen

    Yen Admin
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    Yeh, Descartes famous quote, one of the most epic fails in Philosophy ever....;)
     
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  3. gorski

    gorski MDL Guru

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    It is epic. But a victory!

    Put it in the context and see: no longer does one owe one's existence to anything/anybody outside of one, be it God, feudal Lord, tribe, Church, state or whatever - from now on, a Modern Subject is based in one self, one's thinking, in this case, and by implication that means one can improve oneself by one's labour/acts/choices (transcend one's previous limitations), one is not determined from birth, by birth, by one's feudal estate/class/etc.

    I do not mean to be patronising at all but: since this is my profession, just like you guys are helping me out with IT stuff - please do not take this the wrong way - allow me to return the favour a little bit...

    Modernity starts with this Man (and a bunch of other similar free souls/spirits, of course, preparing the ground for it all) and we better give credit where credit is due... ;)

    Do not forget we are still living in Modernity (as an epoch)...

    Here is a an article to allow for some elementary info:

    http://archive.org/details/historyofphiloso007974mbp

    It's a bloody good History of Philosophy by Wilhelm Windelband!!! Free to download as pdf or Kindle or... ;) I warmly recommend it!!!

    Enjoy!
     
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  4. Yen

    Yen Admin
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    #4 Yen, Aug 31, 2012
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    Descartes was an important man in history, without any doubt. Important for new thinking, own thinking, autonomy, basically self realizing.

    I didn't want to diminish what he has achieved when he lived.

    I only referred to Cogito ergo sum.

    The evolution of the Self is
    -pure instinct influenced actions
    -recognizing of a own being with own actions, but purely ego based
    -'Iamness' needs no reason. I am! There is no cause, no condition for it.

    So the 'modern' Descartes would have said today: Since I still haven't got who I really am, I cannot stop thinking about.
    But it's me who exists....


    Besides of that, Modernity is located in ones mind. As an epoch it is nothing when one is retarded.
    To some Modernity and own thinking is too much freedom and rather a threat.
     
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  5. gorski

    gorski MDL Guru

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    OK, Yen, it's clearer now, with some qualifications and it sounds better with some credits where credit is due...

    However, I have to ask a few Q's...

    Sorry, I have no idea what that means, since I have no idea what instinct in Humans is...

    I put it to you that Humans have no instincts in animal sense of the word, as in "complex type of behaviour, innate and not learnt but rather born with..."

    We have but potential, when we arrive in this world - but nothing else. Everything else we have to learn. The potential has to be triggered and then (this is no shouting, but stressing strongly!) WORKED ON, HEAVILY, SEVERELY and NOTHING IS "ALREADY IN US with/by birth"!

    That depends on an interpretation - Heideggerian or otherwise...

    Actually, one might reason that without Reason one can not arrive at a critical point such as that one, at the time when one arrived at it...

    And sure: no condition for it, since he is/was after the condition for all other things Humanly Earthly, to express myself in such a cumbersome manner...

    But you are onto something there, as they still have no real distinction between Reason and Understanding (and "common sense") at that point and that is a bummer...

    I believe you missed the point there, given the fact that one can not "modernise" it in such a direct manner, since our context differs from that of Descartes quite dramatically...

    You could possibly put those points to Bacon, much more forcefully, I think... ;) Descartes, however, is struggling to bring forth a historical novum, i.e. a methodical scepsis (our RIGHT to doubt!) and a grounding for a Modern Subject. Not a simple quest, given the Feudal context, which is not to be taken lightly!

    You mean a "threat", don't you? And I believe you are right! And that IS the point of Modernity - a threat (to the powers that be, back then) that we can take care of ourselves without being "guided" by "blue-bloods" etc. Or "chosen ones" nowadays, whatever the grounding...:cool:
     
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  6. gorski

    gorski MDL Guru

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    OKI, let me show you a bit more what are the potential consequences of somebody opening up this line of enquiry:

    http://philosophy.eserver.org/kant/what-is-enlightenment.txt

    IMMANUEL KANT
    An Answer to the Question: "What is Enlightenment?"
    Konigsberg in Prussia, 30th September, 1784.

     
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  7. Yen

    Yen Admin
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    #7 Yen, Aug 31, 2012
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    ---I have written that without to read your previous post, you are simply too quick, lol--- I need half an hour to get my words, lol....


    I have to admit that I never got familiar with 'western' Philosophy or Psychology.
    I soon turned my sight towards the 'eastern' Philosophy / Psychology.
    When it came to Freud / C.G. Jung I found more valuable aspects at Jung.
    Also for myself concerning Religions, which are actually more philosophical (to me) I got interested in Hinduism / Buddhism.

    My knowledge about Descartes or Kant is not more than 'ordinary' basic school knowledge.

    So this discussion might become quite interesting having a professional here contributing. :)
    Your English is perfect and talking about such matters requires a good vocabulary, which I am lacking of, lol.

    Anyway I am very interested and I try to reply to make clear what I think about and of course for discussion.

    When I wrote: "The evolution of the Self is
    -pure instinct influenced actions"
    I tried to refer to all creatures, not humans only. This state is mostly situated at animals. There is no 'I' idea and the brain consists of the 'old' regions, which causes instict related actions. (Hunt when hungry, stampede when in danger).

    "We have but potential, when we arrive in this world - but nothing else. Everything else we have to learn."
    I agree with that when it is related to objects and how to handle them. (All situations that are mind related).
    But it is not true when it comes to the question: Who am I? Existence needs no cause and hence it is anything 'there' already what could be gained.

    As soon existence is object related, you are right. (I am the mind / body)....although we have talents which come with our birth...from where???? Genes? lol Previous lives???

    Yes, sure. The time where Descartes lived was a different one. And there his writings were revolutionary.

    Each individual is influenced by the society / age / conditions which prevail (the actual culture where one lives / had lived). Insights which were revolutionary in the past don't have to be equal with insights comming from another culture.

    Descartes said: "I think, therefore I am".

    He attempted to prove his existence as a thinking being, by thinking.
    In fact he's meant "I think, therefore I am an individual" and that was revolutionary.
    But his statement fails to prove 'his' existence. Existence has no cause and cannot be 'proved' by thinking of it....I am IS.
    So it (Iamness) is the reason that you can think about at all. But not vice versa. Thinking is not the reason for 'Iamness'


    "You mean a "threat", don't you? And I believe you are right! And that IS the point of Modernity - a threat (to the powers that be, back then) that we can take care of ourselves without being "guided" by "blue-bloods" etc. Or "chosen ones" nowadays, whatever the grounding..."

    Yes, one needs firstly to get rid of those who are oppressors (or oppressive mechanisms), to feel the OWN life. But that is not the final step to self-awareness.
    Self-awareness doesn't know individuals.
     
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  8. moon510

    moon510 MDL Junior Member

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    #8 moon510, Aug 31, 2012
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    Hi all,
    As I am a great fan of ancient far-east philosphies, i always have great fun playing with this maxim. So if I think, that's the proof that I am. It can imply that if or when I don't think, I don't exist. Being without intelectual processes called tinking is the focal point of far-east schools of meditation. Thinking is based on past experiences and learning, and man of thninking tends to behave automatically according to his experience and knowledge and therefore he frequenty misses and misinterpretes the present as it is. He can predict his future more easily because he shapes it by his own thinmking. As far as maxims areconcerned, I prefer something like this: I love therefore I am. Love gives much greater fullness of excxistence. Love is failure in the world, but still brings happiness. On the other and, thinking brings success in the world, but bieng successfull does not mean being happy and full of life. It only means that one is better functioning automaton.

    Cheers
     
  9. gorski

    gorski MDL Guru

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    (...I have a guest, sorry - I will answer ASAIC... :) )
     
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  10. Michaela Joy

    Michaela Joy MDL Crazy Lady

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    He might have done it on purpose. :)
     
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  11. Yen

    Yen Admin
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    #11 Yen, Sep 1, 2012
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    I like your post. :)

    "It can imply that if or when I don't think, I don't exist."
    I completely agree. Deep sleep state is also a proof that one exists even though there is no one that thinks anything in this state. Anyway that what one really is survives all the states.
    (awake state, REM dream state, deep sleep)
    Awake state: mind with 'awake 'I' idea.
    dream state: (mind with the dream 'I' idea, different, a higher grade of freedom, hence Physics with less limits represented in its laws there..I can fly...I can jump down a 20 meter roof).
    Deep sleep state: (no thoughts, no mind, no 'I' Idea, but also no awareness, comparable to swoon.)

    The state that is reached in meditation is similar to the deep sleep state, but has one important difference: there IS awareness.

    It is fascinating that swoon and state of total Iamness (Enlightenment) have only this one difference: awareness.

    This fact is mostly missed by people who think meditation is nothing but to dull the mind.
    I know that 'I' survive the deep sleep state without to think at that moment and I know that I survive and have survived states in meditation where there are no thoughts.
    Meditation simply makes one to live presently, that's all. The only time where we really live is at present.

    Every person would agree with that when intensively thinking about. One lives now. One thinks about tomorrow, one thinks about the future, but happening is it always at present. So that what are the past and the future are ideas.
    Since both are ideas, the difference of both must be an idea also. This idea is called time.

    "I love therefore I am"
    This expresses the above. Closer one comes when seeing no difference between 'I', love and Iamness. (when one loves, the one becomes love and love is pure being). And that all can happen at present only.
    Nobody can love / be / I am in the past or in the future. I am is presently (grammar).

    Since one can be at present only one can't have a cause and can't have an effect.
    So existence has also no cause and no effect. Thinking can never be the reason (cause) of existence.
    That's why I have posted Descartes words are one of the most epic fails in Philosophy.

    Thank to gorski it opened my eyes and I recognized how important Descartes has been and still is to our culture.
    This also showed me that something that is wrong from another aspect can have been very important in another culture and / or at a different age.

    The row of arguments I have posted to prove Descartes wrong are logic to me.

    One want to try to disassemble the arguments, the fact that we ignore all this because of our habits makes us to want to deny those arguments. Or even to have it pegged as esoteric BS.

    The mind is a crook. :biggrin: To most of us there are past, present, future. We think we have the ability to live / act in the past / future, but we cannot! The past and the future are not available, one cannot act in them. Both remain ideas which are always changing when thought about.
    I think and I think to be an individual. I exist without thoughts, because I only can live presently. 'I am' proves my existence. 'I am' has no causality. And that what one really is is NO individual. Ouch!?!

    If Descartes would have had the same arguments I strongly guess it would have taken absolutely no revolutionary effect and no benefit when he lived. I even think the contrary would have happened since it disproves existence as individual, or in other words it proves that to think to be an individual is an idea only. They probably had thought he's a confused poor man.

    He's said the right thing at the right time and place!
    Misleading...maybe not at first...as he noticed its effect he had no reason to doubt about. No I guess he was convinced of that.
     
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  12. R29k

    R29k MDL GLaDOS

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    To be honest Ergo Sum Cogito is idiotic. It's like saying "I got there before I arrived". The person that started this thread seems to have taken it upon them self to conclude without a process. If you don't believe in process and everything is "magical" like in other threads then it will work. But not everyone buys into the magical bit so you will have conflicting opinions.
     
  13. Yen

    Yen Admin
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    The thread starter has not started the topic.
    It was mentioned (off-topic there) at the other thread Am I a computer?
    I have extracted those posts and created a new thread with a own title. ;)

    At Descartes time when he lived it has been revolutionary I am sure. One has to get when he's lived and what the politics, society, culture, hierarchy had been.
     
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  14. R29k

    R29k MDL GLaDOS

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    Decartes isn't what i am questioning, it's this bit.

    It amounts to Ergo Sum Cogito , I Am therefore I think, if you put the I Am first you will always end up with a mess. Unless you forego all questioning of the I Am bit in which case you end up with a "magical" conclusion. Philosophy requires a process, the thread is attempting to put a "Religious like" spin on it. Or to be more exact a thought process that foregoes the entire process and declares a conclusion that you must "believe" is correct.
    Cogito ergo sum is a systematic approach, all it is saying is that since I can think and ultimately question my existence, I must exist. I think anyone with commonsense can understand! To now say that is wrong and turn the whole thing around is a huge and to me a misguided step.
    You are not trying to prove you exist, you are just saying "take my word for it you exist" hence the I Am . Everything is based on an "assumption", no process, nothing! Using that thinking I can easily say "The Easter Bunny is God" and you can't question me either!
    We all know what assume means, to make an ass of u and me . Not to burst anyone's bubble, but the topic of this thread cannot have a logical argument! You may discuss its' magical properties if you wish, good day.
    Am off for the weekend, :scooter: on to Monday I assume. :D
     
  15. Yen

    Yen Admin
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    Have a nice one. :)
    Well that bit about I am I have explained. Existence is presently, at present there is no cause and no effect, hence no start and no end. Or do you deny the present? Was there a 'time' where you have not existed?
    At present there can't be a progress.

    The fact that one can say: I am is the proof already...
    Cya at Monday. :D
     
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  16. SOCRATE_MMXII

    SOCRATE_MMXII MDL Expert

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    #16 SOCRATE_MMXII, Sep 1, 2012
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    (OP)
    I'm sure he did it on purpose, 'cause he was a freemason. ;)
    What Descartes said with his "famous" quote is that thinking implies existence, when in fact that's false. ;)

     
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  17. gorski

    gorski MDL Guru

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    My, my...

    Thinking (abstractly) is difficult, that much is easy to see...

    But I must go to bed and recover a bit for tomorrow, as there is long road ahead of me....

    So, l8r... I hope... ;)
     
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  18. gorski

    gorski MDL Guru

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    #18 gorski, Sep 2, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2012
    A quick reply before muchly needed rest... :)

    Hehe, I need days to find the time, so it's all cool... ;)

    Yeah, I could sense that. But equally, I have to admit that I can not find answers to my problems in the (far) East...

    India and the rest have all sorts of problems, to my mind, with non-emergence of the Self/Subject or the notions of Time, Historicity and so forth...

    Moreover, I found Jung a mystifier, by comparison to Freud, not a revealer of Truth...

    I will try... I am sure I will fail in so many ways but... I really must go to bed ASAP but I will come back to this, I promise... ;)

    Already problematic - since, as I said, we do not have ANY "instincts" whatsoever... Therefore, shoving us amongst the animals just does not work...

    I am not sure I completely understand what you wanted to convey here but the last sentence is very problematic, for many reasons, if it still (or nevertheless?) implies some kind of "instinct" in us, when we are borne... maybe under a different name...?? Not sure I understand, as I said...

    He wanted some solid grounding from which to proceed in thinking of all that is and he found it in the fact of thinking (not just individually!) - that in itself is undermining the very foundation of the feudal society and all its manifestations, all its products, the whole of its apologia...

    Since you are into "eastern" philosophy, you probably know the usual "argument" 'against' "western" philosophy and science, as ones which are only interested in that which is common, general, by which process(es) they lose sight of individual(ity) of an individual, as they are not interested in it and hence have no tools to grasp and express it, because they only ever deal with that which is universal or at least general...

    Your last sentence, thus, is a bit non-eastern, if you know what I mean... ;)
     
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  19. nodnar

    nodnar MDL Addicted

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    #19 nodnar, Sep 2, 2012
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    @gorski,

    as you say, descartes made a statement.
    in his moment in time,
    that his feudal world could not ignore.
    so, he achieved something.
    whether the statement was right or wrong,
    is irrelevant.
    the net result was a-okay.

    it rarely is with philosophers, from
    heracleides to the present day, so he did
    just fine, in my book..

    as for this denial of instincts,
    you will find me squarely on your way..
    yes we do have instincts.
    like the instinct of self preservation.
    and uncontrollable reflexes, from the
    day we are born.
    we are only so far above animals..
    ;)
     
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  20. SOCRATE_MMXII

    SOCRATE_MMXII MDL Expert

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    @nodnar...that's not the only instincts humans have. Humans have the instinct to LOVE (and other instincts: care of others, sharing aso - yes, they are instincts, but the rulers of society deny that) every creature they encounter, but the rulers of society pervert that instinct and throw s**t in humanity's face packed nicely: reason of thinking.
     
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