decartes

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“In interpreting, we do not, so to speak, throw a “signification” over some naked thing which is present-at-hand, we do not stick a value on it; but when something within-the-world is encountered as such, the thing in question already has an involvement which is disclosed in our understanding of the world, and this involvement is one which gets laid out by the interpretation.”

- From Being and Time, 1927

Like a prisoner who dreams that he is free, starts to suspect that it is merely a dream, and wants to go on dreaming rather than waking up, so I am content to slide back into my old opinions; I fear being shaken out of them because I am afraid that my peaceful sleep may be followed by hard labour when I wake, and that I shall have to struggle not in the light but in the imprisoning darkness of the problems I have raised.
—  Descartes
I am Therefore, I Think

I am currently reading Descartes in one of my classes right now and I must say that I dissagree with him completely. I think, therefore I am should be: I am, therefore I think. The mind cannot exist without the body. Mind and body are both essential and important, they are both key to our human experiance. We must honor, repspect, grow and love both our bodies and our minds. Both are scared and important to our experiance of being human and our experiance in life. One is not more significant than the other. Many times the body possesses whisdom that the mind does not. We can’t think or reason if our bodies are not there. We are beings in the world and then we reason. This is called Phenomonology which I studied last year. Our minds and our bodies, like everything else is to be a natural balance in which one depends on the other to function. Body, Mind, and Soul all are one and all are significant. Love your body, challenge your mind and open your soul. Blessed Be.

But to live without philosophizing is in truth the same as keeping the eyes closed without attempting to open them; and the pleasure of seeing all that sight discloses is not to be compared with the satisfaction afforded by the discoveries of philosophy.
—  René Decartes, The Selections from the Principles of Philosophy
Why Atheists are as Stupid as Everyone Else

I haven’t blogged in a while, so yesterday I literally took a save-state of my brain and decided it would be the subject of my next, hopefully coherent rant. 

I like discussing religion because I’m a bit of a troll, but I also dislike discussing religion because I hate trolls. It’s a bit of a catch 22, which is a great segue to my main theme; circular reasoning. Circular reasoning is a phrase you will usually hear associated with theistic beliefs, at least in internet arguments. The idea is that one can only “see God everywhere” if one assumes He is already there, or that the various holy texts associated with Him are true. God says the bible is His holy Word, so it can’t be lying when it says He exists. Because both facts are dependent on the other to be true, this causes us to go back and forth between the two while seeking justification, hence the term circular reasoning. This is a totally valid argument and one that I have no intention of refuting. 

You see, our modern age of reason depends on the scientific process. One of the main rules of the scientific process is that in order to prove that an idea is right, we must presume that it is not and conclude otherwise. If I told you that your favourite sporting team, whom you tipped for the win last night, had in fact lost, you would not believe me until I showed you the score. The philosopher Descartes would take this further and say that I could have forged the score. I could have forged the team. The sport might not even exist outside your imagination because you may live in a Shutter Island-esque state of insanity. Therefore, the only thing you or I know is that we exist, because the very fact that we are thinking about that question proves our existence. “I think, therefore I am.”

Now, if we’re willing to take the scientific process that far, what happens when we address logic itself? How do you assume that logic does not exist and then logically prove that it does? Logic cannot validate its own existence any more than God’s holy Word can validate His. 

So therefore, logic can only exist if logic was already there, before logic, to create itself. This is a fine example of circular reasoning. 

“Ah, but we see logic all around us,” one might immediately respond. But we only see logic because we presume it is already there. We presume that what we see is actually there because our perception logically indicates that thing’s presence. But by the same token, the Christian sees God all around because they presume He is already there and the paranoid schizophrenic sees the government or the gnomes everywhere, because they presume those things are already there. 

Now, I wish to stipulate that I am not suggesting that logic and reasoning are completely invalid standards against which to live our lives. They’ve worked pretty well up until now so it’s not for the layman to question them. What I’m saying is that one cannot escape religion simply by choosing to worship their own knowledge, as this is worship just like any other kind. 

Shut Up Brain! part 2

Wow, now I have three followers, super cool. If I keep this up I’ll soon have an astronomically large number of followers… like 10 or something. 

Returning to the brain whilst keeping religion in mind, this post will mostly focus on what my girlfriend told me about Descartes. She wrote an essay about him once, so naturally when she read this blog she shouted at me for not involving her more. So there we are, she also got stupidly drunk the other night and fell over the pavement like a complete numpty. There all mentioned, lets move on. 

Descartes basically figured that he had to be able to understand stuff because god (the big man) made a whole world he could understand and plonked him on it.

This was a rationalist view (apparently), Descartes considered that the only way to accumulate knowledge was through rationalist reasoning. That all knowledge was in your brain already because god put it there and we could access it by thinking. Like a priori statements, I’ll make up an example… Err… All wood is hard, therefore I cannot bounce on wood. Oh fuck off.

This rationalism malarky isn’t wildly accepted today (although rationalist method is apparently making a “comeback” and it is still useful for… err, other stuff) and instead philosophers and many psychologists consider empiricism as a more feasible and reliable method of eating knowledge.

In actual fact empiricism is pretty much THE way people acquire knowledge, it formed the foundations of the current scientific method. Empiricism was a British movement spearheaded by John Locke (not the character from Lost) which challenged rationalism by pointing out that we can learn from our experiences.

However Locke also agreed with Descartes regarding dualism, y'know that thing where the mind and material world are separate entities, or something.

Another empiricist who was around at the time called George Berkeley didn’t believe in the duelist theory because he didn’t believe in the material world at all. He thought that the mind’s perception of the material world was all that existed. Meaning if I left a room and it was empty, that room would cease to exist. Weird right? But are we sure that doesn’t happen? Hmmm yup, I’m sure.

Others agree that things actually exist; and these days it’s all about the material and analysing the whats and hmmms using our senses and sense enhancing machinery. Although my girlfriend has just pointed out that introspective contemplating is coming back again in the form of cognitive psychology. So there you go, something else I need to read. 

I’m just glad we’ve moved on from the “We already know everything because god shoved it in our heads already!” days.

Oh wait, people still believe that bull crap don’t they? This is why I don’t want churches or christian charities running schools, filling kids’ heads with creationist nonsense.

This is where my humanist side gets all heckled and confrontationy.

Humanist Hulk Smash!