Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cogito ergo sum

Since this is the very first post of my very first Blog I decided to kick start it with an explanation of the title that I chose for my blog- " I think , therefore I am". You must have often come across this phrase in school laboratories, libraries, art rooms or just about anywhere you are supposed to be inquisitive. I'm sure like most people you wouldn't have given it much thought (after all these classes are universally agreed as napping breaks and you definitely can't be asking questions while sleeping unless you talk in your sleep). However, the history behind this phrase is no less interesting than James Bond's numerous love interests.

Somewhere in the 17 century during the Age of Enlightenment ( or "Age of Reasoning"), a philosopher by the name of Rene Descartes also called the “Father of Modern Philosophy” coined the phrase- “Cogito ergo sum" or " I think therefore I am". Bascically during this age all the people decided to turn eager- beavers and started asking weird questions. During this time one of the FAQs ( frequently asked questions for the uninitiated) was the proof of man's existence. After all what's the evidence that you are not a mere figment of somebody's imagination or horrors of horrors just a part of someone's dreams (in which case the moment the person wakes up Poof you are gone- scary)!! It was then that this Descartes gentleman came to the fore and re-established our faith in our existence with his philosophical arguments.

This guy’s modus operandi is quite simple- he attempts to arrive at a basic set of principles which is agreed to be universally true without any doubt. He achieved this by employing a very interesting and modern method called "Methodological Skepticism" in which any idea whose truth is not established or is even slightly doubtful is out rightly rejected and then is re-established in order to acquire a firm foundation for genuine knowledge. This method is very close to Aristotle’s syllogism or “deductive reasoning”. He starts with the universal truth thatthought exists. Now since thought cannot be separated from me, therefore, I exist, and even if you doubt the statement, then something or someone must be doing the doubting, thus the very fact that he doubted proved his existence. In other words if one is skeptical of existence that is in itself a proof that he does exist.

So guys next time you get any suicidal thoughts no need to go for messy methods ( slashed wrists, sleeping pills etc ) just thank Mr Descartes and stop thinking!!!

The second part of the title (why I'm going to pieces) in my next post. Till then - Happy Thinking!!!