Je pense, donc je suis. zhuh PAnSS, dawk zhuh SWEE. I think, therefore I am. A famous, and very fundamental quote from René Descartes. In 1637, he wrote his Discours de la méthode (the full title in English is Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One’s Reason and of Seeking Truth in the Sciences) which lays out his basic philosophy: mathematical reasoning is the only valid method of discovering what is true. At first this treatise was written in Latin, and the Latin version of this quotation is “Cogito ergo sum”. The truths which Descartes felt to be self-evident were his own existence, the existence of God, and the existence of the exterior world. He also had quite a bit to say about the human soul vs. the animal soul (no, dogs don’t go to heaven, according to Descartes). The most interesting thing, perhaps, about Cartesianism, as Descartes’ philosophy is known, is that he believed in subordinating the individual to moral laws and the order of the universe. Many French like to describe themselves as “Cartesian”, or rational. But ask any French person about finding loopholes. Aha, we’ll get to that in a later post!
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