"Darkness hit by light"
Ink and watercolor on paper, 20 Aug. 2010
René Descartes, in his "Discourse on the Method" published back in 1637, laid the foundations of modern rational thinking and scientific method. Doubting of his perception of reality, he had come to the conclusion that he existed because he thought, as he was aware of the doubts in his mind. (Je pense, donc je suis)
His uncertainty about the truth brought him to the rational conclusion that he existed. In other words, having lost confidence on the delusive sensorial perceptions of reality, he refuged in his conscious mind as the ultimate certainty. He made doubt the basis of rational thinking, which is correct in itself. The price we paid, though, is that we in Occident made doubt the basis of our very existence.
However, there is another angle. Descartes came to his conclusion because he was alive, and because he was conscious of it. He then could have written: "I live, then I can think, and therefore I am". Or to make it short: "I live, therefore I am". Life comes before thinking.
If I identify "Me" with my mind, then I am in trouble as there's no certainty in my mind, only ellusive perceptions and models in constant change. However, if I identify myself with my biological essence, which is what gives meaning to my mind and thoughts, then I'm safe, since I locate myself into something true and out of the doubt. I'm not more or less alive, or just sometimes: I know that I live, therefore I am. (Je vis, donc je suis)
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