Original Latin Quote
Cogito, ergo sum— René Descartes
English Translation Of Quote
I think, therefore I am.— René Descartes
Cogito Ergo Sum by Rene Descartes
Rene Descartes was renowned as a skeptic. He often doubted his own existence and believed that he was deluding himself.
However, Descartes did discover something that solidified his belief in himself: the phrase ‘I think, therefore I am’ (cogito ergo sum). This famous philosophical argument is attributed to Descartes and is widely known today.
Thinking is how we create concepts, solve problems, reason, and make decisions. Additionally, thinking helps us control our feelings and emotions by affecting our feelings.
When we think, it generates additional thoughts (ideas, images, sounds, or emotional feelings). These ideas and actions become connected in a chain of reasoning that creates further thoughts.
Thought is an active process used by animals and people to form psychological associations, model the world, and make decisions. It involves logical manipulation and is seen as a “calculating” function, constantly weighing odds and devising ways of improving things for betterment.
Each person’s approach to thinking is unique. Some are more analytical, while others draw from intuition. Scientists and philosophers tend to be “systems thinkers,” preferring to view the world in stark black-and-white and disliking any fuzziness.
It is essential to recognize that thinking is a developmental process and can be affected by various factors. These include past experience, received dogmas, the stirring of self-interest, mental laziness, social environment, biases, and false expectations.
Furthermore, thinking is highly susceptible to errors and disturbances, making it a delicate and fragile process. Many factors can influence it negatively – leading to indecision, confusion, and belief in false or irrational beliefs.
However, thinking can also be extremely helpful and beneficial. For instance, when we’re uncertain what to do, we can try to recall our instincts or ask questions to gain more knowledge.
As we age, our minds become more sophisticated in thinking and feeling. While some individuals possess an innate preference for one over the other, others must learn how to cultivate both simultaneously.
Thinking is an intricate process that takes years to master. That is why a reliable support system such as family or a psychotherapist is crucial. Furthermore, communicating effectively with those with different preferences allows you to work together on solving problems together.
At a time of skepticism, Rene Descartes experienced a series of dreams or visions that inspired him to reform natural philosophy and physics. This led to the production of works which would cement his place as one of history’s greatest philosophers.
His work established that all human knowledge could be acquired through scientific methods and that perfect certainty was possible. This groundbreaking assertion marked a major advancement in combatting skepticism, setting the stage for modern philosophy’s growth and development.
To achieve this goal, he devised a strategy for applying sound mathematical methods across all areas of knowledge. Particularly, he sought to dispel skepticism by devising an efficient path toward deductive reasoning.
He believed that all knowledge could be gained through mathematics and reason, which was the only way to reach complete certainty in comprehending our environment. Additionally, he held that by doing this, we would also gain an intimate knowledge of ourselves – an idea that formed a cornerstone of his thinking.
After serving in the military, Descartes returned to France and continued his writings while studying with Isaac Beeckman – an influential figure in his thinking. This inspired Descartes to propose a scientific revolution that would revolutionize how we perceive our world.
As a result, Descartes created the Discourse on Method and dedicated his life to this groundbreaking endeavor. This groundbreaking work and its appended treatises are regarded as among the greatest philosophical works ever penned.
Descartes made a major contribution to mathematics with his innovations in notation and the creation of “Cartesian” coordinate systems, which would become influential in modern algebra and geometry.
Although Descartes passed away in 1650, his work remains influential to modern thought and science. His works are constantly being studied and re-evaluated, with many hailing him as the father of modern philosophy.
Cogito ergo sum
Cogito ergo sum is one of the most iconic phrases in philosophy, often attributed to Rene Descartes for its ability to support one’s arguments.
In principle, the ergo cogito sum is an epistemic statement that implies the existence of a thinking substance as a necessary condition or substrate for thought. However, Descartes often argued against this assumption, which is why he said ergo cogito sum cannot be true.
It may be surprising that, given his previous assertions about the superiority of clarity and distinctness of cognition over mere perception, Descartes would make such a statement. His use of the phrase “natural light” alludes to this idea.
However, there is no definitive proof to support this claim. In other passages in the book, references to “natural light” occur, such as when Cube states it as the only way to discover his origins.
This interpretation of the passage does not seem particularly convincing, mainly because Descartes had an explicit ontology in mind that did not seem to align with his claim. He was particularly dissatisfied with David Hume’s “substance-accident” ontology.
Another problem with this interpretation is that it ignores that a cognition such as the cogito is susceptible to doubt since it does not fully satisfy the indubitability requirement of perfect knowledge.
There are also some questions regarding how the argumentation works and what it aims to prove. This is because two distinct logical structures for the cogito exist.
One possible interpretation is that the cogito is a truncated syllogism, which requires another general premise, such as ‘Everything that thinks exists.’ This interpretation may seem awkward, but it is the one Descartes often uses in Meditation two.
It is also possible that the cogito is an immediate inference, which requires no further thought and does not require a second general premise. This option tends to be more prevalent and simpler to defend than the truncated syllogism option.