Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Cogito Ergo Sum

Philosophical statement within Discourse on Method (1637)
René Descartes' original French statement: "Je pense, donc je suis."
Common Greek translation: "Cogito Ergo Sum"
English translation: "I think, therefore I am."

I began thinking about this phrase at the end of last week when I was having a conversation with a co-worker about all of the chores and projects I was attempting to complete at my house before our upcoming November church meeting. I said the following to her:
I think, therefore I am.
I didn't think, therefore I am collecting lint rollers.

As most know, I have two cats. And, I love my cats. But, before I adopted them, I didn't realize what changes they would be creating in my normal cleaning schedule, my comfort with visitors stopping by unexpectedly, my daily clothes inspection routine, and so many other aspects of my life. I just didn't think about it. But, every day since, I've thought about it a lot. Case in point: After searching through a couple of drawers and under the desk in my closet-size office, I found four lint rollers (two depleted, two close to the end of the roll). I have one or two in my car. I have at least three more at home in various locations. Yes, I obsess about this at times, but I have never seen two cats shed as much as the two I have. So, the point I was trying to (not-so-cleverly) make was that lint rollers have now become a huge part of my life.

However, my co-worker peered at me with squinting eyes and told me she didn't have a clue about what I just said to her. I asked a few more, and they had never heard the phrase, "I think, therefore I am." I went to a co-worker that I was SURE would know, and he had no idea.

I cannot recall where I learned about it. Maybe it was in my freshman honors humanities class. Maybe I just looked it up one time after hearing someone else talk about it. I do understand that it is considered the "first certainty" or "first truth" carried out through the steps below.

  • I ask myself, "Do I really exist?"
  • I would be attempting to answer my own question through thinking about it.
  • But, I could not have the ability to THINK without first EXISTING.
  • Therefore, I do exist.

  • If you would like to understand this further, I would recommend you read the short but informative article about this principle at the Wikipedia site. I especially appreciate the joke posted in the Common Errors section of this explanation.

    It's very possible that I started reading and learning about this statement after seeing it on a t-shirt, bumper sticker, or coffee mug. These are some humorous variations that I've seen from time to time.

    I think, therefore I blog.
    I think, therefore I am a vegetarian.
    I think, therefore I recycle.
    I think, therefore I compost.
    I think, therefore I vote.
    I think, therefore I don't know.
    I think, therefore IM. (instant message)
    I think, therefore iPod.
    I think, therefore I roleplay.
    I think, therefore I am misunderstood.
    I think, therefore I am a Christian.
    I think, therefore I communicate.
    I think, therefore I am single. (?)
    I think, therefore I read.
    I think, therefore I write.
    I think, therefore I have a headache.

    Have you seen any others? (And, if I am not clearly understanding the basics of this statement, please correct me.)


    Sandy-san said...

    How about:

    I think, therefore I am right (or wrong!)


    I think, therefore I am frustrated.


    Sandy-san said...


    I think, therefore I am a conservative.

    YEAH! =)

    Dani said...

    a friend has a shirt that says,

    You don't think, therefore you are not.

    It gets lots of interesting looks.

    Elizabeth said...

    I have thought, therefore I have been? hmmm.
    Oh, this is Elizabeth - Lydia's email buddy. :)