Up@dawn 2.0

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Rene and The Matrix (Courtney Manns #6)

Rene Descartes (1596-1650) is a French mathematician and philosopher. He is as well known for his contribution to mathematics as he is for his contributions to philosophy. He developed Cartesian coordinates system where a point of reference can be determined as two sets of numbers. Ironically, he was treated relatively unfairly in life. Since he was a catholic in a protestant nation, he was buried in a graveyard with orphans. Although his skull remains in the orphan graveyard, the rest of him was reburied in the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Pres in 1819.

If you've ever heard the phrase, "beyond the shadow of doubt" then its likely that the origins of this belief stemmed from Rene Descartes philosophy. Rene was indeed a skeptic, but he was not as extreme in his skepticism as Phyrro was. His stance on skepticism is more like our view of skepticism today, like when we say "I'll believe it when I see it". Descartes philosophy, referred to as Cartesian doubt, is based upon doubting everything at first and testing those things which we doubt, if it fails the test, that belief is thrown out. If it passes the test we can be sure it is true. So basically we get to the truth, after we've weeded out all of the things that we doubt. This method is much like the act of picking out all of the bad apples from a bunch and being left with only the good apples.
Descartes is famous for the quote "Cogito ergo sum" or "I think, therfore I am". Often it is taken out of context and used as a simple phrase, however this summation derived from his rather complicated dream theory. In Rene Descartes' dream theory, he attempted to tackle the idea of whether or not we actually exist. If you asked Phyrro, he would doubt that we even existed at all, as he walked off a cliff because he denied the existence of it. But Descartes based his argument on a dream, imagining that we are all just dreaming. Furthermore, he imagined us being tricked by a malicious demon. So, everything that we imagined to be true wasn’t really true, but a devious trick of a demon. Therefore, what we think is 2+2=4 could actually be 5 and the demon keeps tricking us into believing the answer is 4, no matter how hard we try. But he came to the conclusion that if we are even thinking about what's real or not, if we are thinking whether or not we exist and we cannot trust our own senses, the mere fact that we are thinking is proof that we exist at all! So goes the saying, "I think, therefore I am". Even if we were all trapped in the Matrix, and we were in an induced dream state our whole lives where everything we're "living" out is nothing but a computer program, we still exist because we're here....thinking.  

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