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Rene Descartes is the philosophical architect of our modern worlds. His view that mind and body are distinct substances is essential for our belief in the immortality of the soul. Watson (2007) noted that Descartes’ invention of analytic geometry led to the calculus that makes modern physics possible and his method of testing hypotheses is the foundation of experimental science. It is important to note that from heart transplants to personal computers, nothing in our 21st century world would surprise Descartes.
Computer Message “calculo ergo sum” and Cogito
Suppose a computer sent a message such as “calculo ergo sum” this would count as an example of cogito. This is because however humorous or trivial the many contemporary versions of ‘cogito ergo sum’ many sound, they are all concerned with what defines existence and what gives it purpose (Pärna, 2010). Being of the most famous phrases in philosophy, “cogito ergo sum” means “I think, therefore I am”. “Calculo ergo sum” is an example of cogito because Descartes bedrock existential statement “cogito ergo sum” is ultimately a contestable claim about the determinate factor of what it is to be human. Therefore the computer sending such a message is understood as a machine that thinks does appear to chip away at a widely recognized boundary employed to affirm human existence and mark human uniqueness.
Calculo ergo sum would count as an example of cogito because the putative intelligence of the computer owes more to its genesis in the arena of elite sciences than to any innate intellectual property of the machine (Ess, 1996). Ess (1996) further says that it is the computer’s aura as a thinking machine that provokes human identity issues. One method that could help reduce this anxiety is to keep clear borders between humans and thinking machines. Descartes through his statement “Cogito, ergo sum” or “I think, therefore I am” was saying something that seems obviously true, that one must exist as a mind in order to think and be aware.
How Descartes would Accept it as Valid and Reply
Descartes would accept a statement sent by the computer “calculo, ergo sum” as an example of cogito. This is because computers do not do anything unless they are programmed to do and up until now there are no computers that are programmed to think for themselves. Computers therefore do not know anything. According to Tymieniecka (2002), Descartes accepts that his thinking is intentional without subjecting his experience of his thinking to methodical doubt. Also when Descartes arrives at his “Cogito ergo sum” he never considers the possibility that all that he has done is reveal some peculiarity of his mind, some subjective tendency of his thinking, such that whenever he thinks about the fact that he is thinking.
Descartes would accept calculo as valid because he never considers the possibility that even through his thought “calculo” always follows his though “cogito” the first thought may simply cause the second, and that the fact that he thinks might not actually imply that he exists. Tymieniecka (2002) says that Descartes could not think that “calculo” always follows “cogito” according to the rules of thought, for then he would have to concede that “cogito ergo sum” would be true only if the rules of thought were reliable, which would be the condition of his conclusion if he thought of himself as a computer. If for Descartes, his own thinking could be non-random only if it was guided by rules, he would not have claimed that the “cogito ergo sum” was indubitable and could serve as his Archimedean point (Tymieniecka, 2002).
Reasons Why Descartes Would Accept
The truth of the cogito would itself depend on the reliability of the rules. Descartes avoids an infinite regress because it is for him beyond question that his thinking is, as he experiences it, non-random, simply because it was intentional. He would have no hesitation in accepting that he is able to conclude “calculo” without following rules or being guided by images and hence that there can be no other explanation for his concluding “calculo” than the fact that his existence is actually implied by the fact that he thinks (Tymieniecka, 2002). According to Descartes we should only believe a statement is true if it is clearly defined and known with certainty to be necessarily true.
How the World would be if Descartes Never Lived
If Descartes had never lived the world would be different because of the lack of modern philosophy. Through Descartes world was able to shift the focus of philosophical questioning from metaphysical speculation about ultimate reality and ethical inquiry, heavily influenced by theology to investigation of how people understand the world (Bailey, 2011). This shift of focus about the world initiated by Descartes gave methodological scepticism great importance and relocated the basis of certainty from authority and tradition to reason. If Descartes had not lived the world would not have the Socratic and Platonic dialectic. Prado (2009) argues that Descartes made a genuine advance on the Socratic and Platonic dialectic or discursive investigatory method of discerning truth.
Descartes turned philosophical inquiry from a probing question-answer process into a breaking down in to basic components of anything we believe or are inclined to believe and which is open to application of methodological scepticism in the world today (Prado, 2009). That he did so explains why his methodological proposals are easy to grasp in the current world or in our time even by those most innocent of philosophy. Prado (2009) says that analysis is a methodology now deeply embedded in our still largely modern way of thinking. The world would be different if Descartes never lived because there would be no modern conception of science. Bailey (2011) says that Descartes influential metaphor of a unified tree of knowledge with metaphysics as the roots, physics as the trunk and the special sciences like biology as the branches would not have permeated in the modern conception of science.
Why People Would still Recognize the World
People would still recognize the world if Descartes had not lived. This is because Descartes lived in a time when disturbing questions about how things hang together were being asked, a time when accepted beliefs about the world were beginning to be found insufficiently supported or at odds with new things being learned (Prado, 2009). The world would still be recognized because questions were being raised about egocentrism and heliocentric. The relationship between Descartes theory and secondary qualities was a key element of the mechanical philosophy of understanding the world.
Why Descartes Would Never Wish he Were not Born
Descartes would never wish he was never born because he is probably the most widely studied to any of the Western philosophers, and his mediations on ‘First philosophy’ is his philosophical masterpiece and most important work (Bailey, 2011). Also Descartes foundational claim in the search for truth ‘cogito ergo sum’ is the most famous dictum in the history of philosophy. The mediations also remain Descartes most complete account of how this principle to day simply called “the cogito” is established.
Descartes would never wish he was not born because his work to the history of though is profound. He is commonly considered the first great philosopher of the modern era, since his work was central in sweeping away medieval scholasticism based on Aristotelian science and Christian theology and replacing it with the methods and questions that dominated philosophy until the 20th century (Bailey, 2011). This change from scholastic to modern modes of thought was also crucial to the phenomenal growth of natural science and mathematics beginning in the 17th century.
Why Descartes would not regret his Influence or Wish that it were Far Greater?
Descartes stands at a turning point in the history of philosophy and therefore he would not regret his influence or wish that it were far greater. Menn (2002) says that Descartes is an ideal case study for anyone who wishes to assess the extent of constancy and change, of harmony and disharmony in the history of philosophy. Descartes philosophy is also essential for anyone who wishes to see how far an old philosophy can survive and how much it can contribute in a new scientific or religious setting. Menn (2002) also noted that Descartes would wish his influence was far greater because his laws of nature codify the new science of motion presented by Galileo Galilei. Descartes justified these laws of nature by appealing to the immutability of God. The laws provide the groundwork for an analysis of orbital notion and impact, the fundamental physical processes in the mechanical world Descartes envisioned.
In conclusion, Descartes has become a kind of philosophical icon, displayed in the textbooks and commentaries of the last hundred years. He is also figured as archetypal rationalist metaphysician who attempted to spin out a whole deductive system of philosophy and science from premises derived entirely from inner reflection. It is important to highlight that Descartes was one of those very few philosophical giants whose genius defies easy classification and whose thought is sufficiently original and challenging to resist boiling down to simple set of aims and objectives. It is also important to recall that Descartes accepts that there is a phenomenological distinction between the ideas of intellect, the ideas of imagination and the ideas of sense.
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