John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Desbate with Descartes

Point, Counterpoint: a deep philosophical debate with Rene Descartes (dead) and John Brown (not dead but bored and wasting time on a frivolous post.)

Mr. Descartes will go first:

“I think, therefore, I am”
–Rene Descartes

John Brown on rebuttal:

“Sure. That sounds really smart at first, but come on. Really? I mean….it doesnt even stand to reason. For example, some people think too much. That doesnt mean they exist too much, right?

Other people only think sometimes. We don’t say they only exist sometimes.

Do we? I don’t.

And some people dont think at all, but still exist and continue to show up at family reunions. I know this for a fact. I was one of them for about 18 months in the early1980’s and still got invited to and attended a family reunion.

jyb_musingsMaybe a better formulation could be, “I got invited to attend my family reunion, therefore, I am.” But then what about those living in cultures that don’t celebrate family reunions or families where the family member who usually hosts the family reunions has had it and finally says “I am not doing this anymore. I am sick of all you ungrateful jerks. Let someone else have it at their house next time.” This happens. A lot. What about them? They still exist, right.

Maybe Descartes would have made his point more validly by saying, “I sometimes try to sound like a know-it-all by saying things that sound really profound even though they really aren’t, therefore I am irritating and get on people’s nerves.”

If Descartes had gone with this formulation, I doubt anyone would have challenged him and we wouldn’t even be having this debate right now.

And I didn’t even have to think too hard to completely disprove Descartes’ theory. And that is pretty cool– whether or not I can prove I exist.


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