Archives for posts with tag: Cogito ergo sum


‘Self awareness’ is how we call our ability to observe ourselves while observing others.
Humberto Maturana

First and foremost, existence is a concept.
Something our forefathers had coined. A mental construct built by talking about it.

Nothing existed before we saw it AND talked about it!

Think about the stars nobody knew about until we used Hubble to peek into the history of the Universe.

Think about the stars which ‘sit’ there and no man will ever see. Or otherwise perceive.
Think!
Do they, the stars, actually exist?

In the sense that has their being been ‘measured’ into existence by a self aware observer?
Has that observation been communicated by the observer to anybody else? Who had confirmed that that observation was anything more than a mere illusion?

You see, both actually – my rantings on your monitor – and figuratively, I don’t need to be told about the existence of the steps I have to climb up and down when I leave my bed each morning. On the other hand, I know that the Amazon exists because I’ve been told about it. Further more, I see for my self the steps in my house but I have a name for them – and I can write about them – because our forefathers had learned to speak. About the world they were discovering around themselves.

My point? We speak things into existence, not into being.

‘How about the things we talk about before we’ve ‘seen’ them? Neptune, the planet, had been ‘calculated’ before ‘seen’ and all mass manufactured things are first discussed and only then launched into production.
Which was the exact moment when each of them had started to exist?’

Good question!
I’m afraid I have no valid answer. This is a matter which will remain open for further debate!
After all, how else to justify our existence?
How else to find our own meaning? Other than by talking about it?

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Wisdom comes from thinking. From putting your mind to work in a considerate manner.
Doubting everything will only get you so far. And leave you in ‘limbo’.
In a quick-sand kind of limbo…
Descartes must be one of the most misquoted thinkers.
‘Dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum’.
‘I wonder hence I think. I think hence I am’. Meaning that ‘by wondering I’ve set in motion the process which has led me to become aware of my own existence’.
No reference to ‘wisdom’…

LE

Words have a life of their own. Given by us but still theirs.

Dubito used to describe a state of ‘uneasiness’. You weren’t sure and you gave it more consideration. You thought about it.

Contemporary doubting is more like an aggressively pursued hair-splitting. We actively search for reasons to disbelieve.

Even if both words share the same root, the concepts have grown apart.

Starting from dubito, Descartes had replaced religious faith with a newly found trust in human reason.

Through doubting we’ve destroyed Descartes’ legacy. Trust is almost dead and we’ve entered the realm of ‘alternative facts’. Quite the opposite of what Descartes had in mind.

So yes, dubito might lead to wisdom. If the thinking is right, of course.

Doubting, specially as we do it now,…

Something more. Some people are convinced that doubting everything is the ‘scientific attitude’. I vehemently disagree.

Science, the scientific attitude, is about keeping an open mind. About being aware of one’s limitations. AND about trusting your peers! Not exactly their expertise but their good will.

If I accept that I might be wrong, then my peers might be wrong also. Hence I’m not going to accept, prima facie, any opinion from anybody. But I’m going to reexamine my conclusions if someone tells me they are wrong. If, and this is a big if, that person is NOT a professional naysayer.

Skepticism is OK. More than OK. It serves as a safety net/harness. Makes it harder for us to do really stupid things.

Negativism, on the other hand, is bad. Very bad. Destroys everything. Starting with our ability to do things together. To work as a team.

Ever-since Descartes –¬† dubito ergo cogito, cogito ergo sum, the western culture had considered that a person becomes truly human only after they actively start looking for answers. Start thinking about their own persona, in a conscious manner.
Otherwise put, we start existing only after we notice our existence.

The corollary of this concept had been ‘rational thinking’. The belief that it is possible to consider something – to emit a judgement about a subject, only after dispassionately examining all available facts – and only the facts, pertinent to the matter.

While the ‘thinkers’ were coining the concept of rationality, the more practical minded had come up with the scientific approach. Gather as much information as possible about the subject you’re interested in, interpret it and come up with a conclusion. But keep an open mind about any new information which might come up and be prepared for your conclusion to be invalidated – or, at least, ‘nuanced’, at any moment.

At first sight, there isn’t much difference between these two approaches. Only at first sight, of course…
Those who consider themselves to be ‘rational’ have a hard time accepting other people’s conclusions while the bona fide ‘scientists’ are actually happy when they are contradicted. ‘My work has been considered important enough for somebody to check it. I’ll just have to make amends and all will¬† be fine’.

Now, I’m convinced that you’ve all figured out that I’m joking.
There’s no such thing as a fully rational person who denies the facts which happen to contradict their conclusions just as there’s no such thing as a scientist pure enough to actually enjoy being proven wrong.

But I’m not joking when I observe that there are so many people who consider themselves to be rational and who refuse to accept as fact anything which contradicts their beliefs. Who have a ‘scientific’ approach. Who cherry-pick only the facts which confirm their theory and dismiss – as ‘fake-news’, all the rest. Just as many as the scientists who do the same thing.

I wonder who supervises their thinking processes.
Are they truly aware about what’s going on inside their heads?
Or about the consequences?

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