domingo, 20 de maio de 2012

Science Feature: I Think, Therefore I Am

Illustration for the website: Science Fiction

"Cogito, Ergo Sum" - Paulo Zerbato/2010

Science Feature: I Think, Therefore I Am
Posted by Dr. Nigel Seel

I first met René Descartes’ famous aphorism, “I think, therefore I am”, when I was a young teen. Naturally I wasted no time in deciding that the Great Man’s thought was trite and glib, a maxim whose proper home was surely the tee-shirt. Later, at university, I took philosophy classes and was surprised to discover that there were people who thought they’d refuted Descartes. How on earth was that possible?

Monsieur Descartes spent his youth as a soldier, seeing action in many battles. Later, when he became an academic, he used to stay in bed ’til noon thinking deep thoughts. Doubt plagued him: how can anyone be sure of anything? As you look around, the things you see, hear and smell could merely be a dream or a staged virtual environment.

Descartes decided that the only thing he could really be certain about was that he was thinking at all. But if he was thinking, then surely he would have to exist in order to think. The very act of thinking proved that he himself existed: cogito ergo sum in his famous Latin formulation...."


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