"I think, therefore I Am."

Is this famous line from Descartes “Discourse on Method” compatible with Catholic Tradition, yes or no??? And why??? :hmmm: Thanks (from a university student who is Catholic) and God Bless.

I believe St. Thomas asked (to paraphase): “How can we think without the Thinker?”

[quote=slinky1882]Is this famous line from Descartes “Discourse on Method” compatible with Catholic Tradition, yes or no??? And why??? :hmmm: Thanks (from a university student who is Catholic) and God Bless.
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It is putting Descartes before D’horse.

No really, the proper way of putting it is: I am, therefore I think.

Existence is an antecedent to thinking, it cannot come before.

Peace

“I think, therefore I am” is one of the few things I remember from my “Theories of Knowlegde” Philosophy class in college. If I remember right, other way (I am, therefore I think) was discussed too.

I see nothing wrong with the statement since does not, in itself, contradict any teachings directly. It is when, statements are extrapolated that people get in trouble.

PF

Cogito que cogito, ergo cogito sum.

I think that I think, therefore I think I am.

I’m not sure, but I think the title of the book is *Crossing the Threshold of Hope, *which was originally to be an interview of JPII, the Pope discussed Catholicism as it relates to the fathers of Modern Thought and this very issue was discussed. I would suggest a reading of this book, the pope had a very eloquent way of saying “NO, it is not in line with Catholic thinking”

But, wasn’t that line about proving Descarte’s own existance? Isn’t this how he logically concluded that he is indeed here?

I would guess that “I think therefore I am” is incompatable; I believe a more theologically correct way to put it is, “I am, therefore I think!”

I would rather say, “I think; therefore I have a mind.” Only a being with an intellect is capable of thought. So the introspection of one’s thoughts is more a proof of one’s soul than it is of existence. (Since further reflection will lead one to conclude that one’s thoughts are not in essence material, and therefore must arise from an immaterial faculty of the soul.)

Could a stone say, “I don’t think, therefore I am not.”?

[quote=adstrinity]But, wasn’t that line about proving Descarte’s own existance? Isn’t this how he logically concluded that he is indeed here?
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Yes! That is all he was doing. He wasn’t saying that his thinking was the CAUSE of his existance! Please, Catholics, enlighten us. Why on Earth would the Church object to this?!?!
Michael

[quote=MichaelLewis]Yes! That is all he was doing. He wasn’t saying that his thinking was the CAUSE of his existance! Please, Catholics, enlighten us. Why on Earth would the Church object to this?!?!
Michael
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I think “I AM” has kinda been reserved…though, I’m no expert on this, but as my earlier post mentioned JPII did address the matter, I just don’t remember the exact theological perspective…

[quote=Seeks God]I think “I AM” has kinda been reserved…though, I’m no expert on this, but as my earlier post mentioned JPII did address the matter, I just don’t remember the exact theological perspective…
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Descartes was not claiming to be God, if that is what you are implying. (Though in the Meditations, he did very briefly consider the possibility, and then rejected it.) Infact, Descartes overcame his skepticism only by concluding that there was a God who wouldn’t decieve his creation.

Here is the excerpt from John Paul’s book:

All of the rationalism of the last centuries–as much in its Anglo-Saxon expression as in its COntinental expression in Kantianism, Hegelianism, and the German philosophy of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries up to Husserl and Heidegger–can be considered a continuation and an expansion of Cartesian positions. The author of Meditationes de Prima Philosophia with his ontological proofs, distanced us from the philosophy of existence, and also from the traditional approaches of Saint Thomas which lead to God who is “autonomous existence,” Ipsum esse subsistens. By making subjective consciousness absolute, Descartes moves instead toward pure consciousness of the Absolute, which is pure thought. Such an Absolute is not autonomous existence but rather autonomous thought. Only that which corresponds to human thought makes sense. The objective truth of this thought is not as important as the fact that something exists in human consciousness.

We find ourselves on the threshold of modern immanentism and subjectivism. Descartes marks the beginning of the development of the exact and natural sciences as well as of the humanistic sciences in their new expression. He turns his back on the metaphysics and concetrates on the philosophy of knowledge. Kant is the most norable representative of this movement.

Though the father of modern rationalism certainly cannot be blamed for the move away from Christianity, it is difficult not to acknowledge that he created the climate in which, in the modern era, such an estrangement became possible. It did not happen right away, but gradually.

Earlier, he addresses Descartes even more pointedly:

…Descartes, who split thought from existence and identified existence with reaon itself: "Cogito, ego sum" (“I think, therefore I am”).

How different from the approach of Saint Thomas, for whom it is not thought which determines existence, but existence, esse," which determintes thought! I think the way I think because I am that which I am–a creature–and because He is He who is, the absolute uncreated Mystery. If He were not Mystery, there would be no need for Revelation, or, more precisely, there would be no need for God to reveal Himself.

That’s JP II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 1994: 38, 51-52.

Descartes’ philosophical point is the result of a cultural atmosphere, brought on by the Reformation, in which God seemed distant and ungraspable, and the Truth utterly forsaken. Hence then, as today, a deep chasm began to grow between those Rationalists who, like Prometheus, wanted to steal the knowledge of God for themselves through reason, and the fideists, those anti-intellectuals who despaired of the knowledge of God and settled instead for a mindless and emotional religiosity.

Descartes is not the first, nor necessarily the most important figure in that movement. William of Ockham and Francis Bacon, for example, were already feverish with the passion for rationalism; and Luther himself was the poster-boy and anti-intellectualism.

These are not actually opposites, although they appear that way; both are simply two sides of the same denarius of despair.

For a totally different perspective, people in a persistent vegetative state certainly “are” yet perhaps without thought.

*ie, *modern medical care may have eclipsed the boundaries of modernism

JP0,

The tragic irony is that you begin to see why Cartesian subjectivism belongs to the core of the Culture of Death. Schaivo–and all of the hundreds (thousands?) of other people who are starved to death–are regarded as non-beings, for their lack of cognition.

[quote=Godefridus]JP0,

The tragic irony is that you begin to see why Cartesian subjectivism belongs to the core of the Culture of Death. Schaivo–and all of the hundreds (thousands?) of other people who are starved to death–are regarded as non-beings, for their lack of cognition.
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Well put. I had never given Decartes famous quote a “thought” as to its validity until this thread and in conjunction with poor Terri’s death, and the likely hidden deaths of others like her.

But, again, I didn’t think that it applied to all humans, just to Descarte’s who was rationalizing if he indeed was an entity at all (anybody who has ever questioned if they really are here does have a hard time concluding that they indeed are.) I don’t think that it was meant to determine who is human and who isn’t. …Is that what he was trying to do? Determine he was human?

Can I simply say “I don’t think I care therefore I don’t think about it?”

How would a Catholic deal with Cartesian skepticism then? How can one get around the fact that we can’t escape our own minds?

Godefridus quotes JPII:

He turns his back on the metaphysics and concetrates on the philosophy of knowledge…
[size=3][font=Times New Roman]How different from the approach of Saint Thomas, for whom it is not thought which determines existence, but existence,

[/size] esse," which determintes thought! I think the way I think because I am that which I am–a creature–and because He is He who is, the absolute uncreated Mystery. If He were not Mystery, there would be no need for Revelation, or, more precisely, there would be no need for God to reveal Himself.

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But how can you be aware of existence without thought? As JPII implies, the cogito addressed an epistemological issue rather than metaphysical one. Descartes wasn’t saying that there exists nothing more than thought, or that thought is prior to everything else. He just questioned some of his fundamental assumptions. It is quite natural to do so, given that we are often deceived (especially in dreams) and given the bare possibility of all-powerful beings, one could be deceived about almost anything.

[quote=adstrinity]But, again, I didn’t think that it applied to all humans, just to Descarte’s who was rationalizing if he indeed was an entity at all (anybody who has ever questioned if they really are here does have a hard time concluding that they indeed are.) I don’t think that it was meant to determine who is human and who isn’t. …Is that what he was trying to do? Determine he was human?
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No, you were right the first time. He was just trying to determine that he existed. This has NOTHING to do with who is human or important. Descartes wanted to know what he could be absolutely certain of; that meant, for a while, not assuming that the world he observed was real. His method was doubt, he ended up ‘proving’ to himself that God and the external world were real, and that he could know that they were real and mind independent.

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