Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Descarte, 'Cogito ergo sum' and dualism

So today was the second part of the City Lit course Ways into philosophy: great thinkers and we became 
Descartes was big in Maths too
 somewhat acquainted with Descartes famous for both mathematical Cartesian co-ordinates (locating a point using x and y co-ordinates on a graph) which he thought up  and his philosophical catch phrase   
I think therefore I am.
As well as picking some stuff up about The French thinker René  Descartes (1596- 1650)  I realised even more than last week that getting to grips with the ideas of philosophers rather than just finding some facts about them would be (for me) quite hard work.

What was explained (I think) which is useful is that there are two approaches, not necessarily exclusive but which are opposing views, they are
Empiricism- this is generally stuff that can be measured and where we can use experiments
Rationalism - this is generally stuff in your head where you sort of work it out by logic.

Back to Rene..

René Descartes' ideas are still  relevant and philosophers like the hairy Professor David Chalmers
who has done quite a bit of  work on Zombies.
Posing the question what is it to know something would cause Descartes to reduce everything to the point where all we can be sure of is our own existence (our senses often fool us and illness or dreams  can delude us and there's an awkward demon too) this means that we can exist without our physical bits and pieces he  was the man who split our minds from our bodies (dualism).

Descartes sadly died at the age of 54 seemingly as a result of the hard Swedish winter (or was it?)

Nice Building

Just round the corner from the City Lit in Holborn is the Freemason's Hall, I'm not a Mason and haven't been inside but it looks pretty impressive - seems you can visit and user the library , might be worth doing this sometime.
Masonic place

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