Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Therefore I Am

I've often wished that I could have been in the room when Descartes came up with his famous quip, "I think, therefore I am." I would have put my arm around his shoulder and gently tapped, or I would have punched him in the nose, or I might have taken his hands in mine, kissed him full on the lips, and said, "René, my friend, don't you feel anything?"
– Derrick Jensen, A Language Older Than Words


Doctor Plog said...


Petrus Spronk said...

I see, hear, smell, touch and taste, therefor I am (sometimes)

ToneMasterTone said...

I would have liked to have been in the room when Derrick came up with that thought so that I could have punched him in the nose and told him to read more carefully.

By thinking, Descartes meant all forms of mental activity, including feeling.

Here's a direct quote, which I would dearly like to smack Derrick and his smugness around with:

"But what, then, am I? A thing that thinks. What is a thing that thinks? that is to say, a thing that doubts, perceives, affirms, denies, wills, does not will, that imagines also, and which feels."


(Text)ure and (me)aning said...

I do not like green eggs and ham
I do not like them sam I am
I do not like them on a train
I do not like them on a plane
I do not like them on a boat
I do not like them with a goat
I do not like them here nor there
I do not like them anywhere
I do not like them sam
I am
thinking I'd like to just have some
porridge instead, thank you.


The Garden of Self-Defence said...


perhaps you should read jensen more closely because he painstakingly dissects descartes, shows how descartes' thought has contributed to such an ecologically disembodied culture by man placing himself at the centre of everything.

i personally feel with my body not with my mind. you may have read some new york times bestseller that tells you that people feel with their minds, but this is urban-centric-corporate-male twaddle to me.

i think your championing of descartes at a time of ecological and social crises is misguided.

try joseph jenkins' Humanure Handbook' - a more exacting guide for the future with the central theme of recycling our shit. we are the only land mammal that shits in our drinking water. aren't we smart.

there are other models than descartes, calvin and corporatism. those who have put man at the centre have had their day, and possibly ours.

ToneMasterTone said...

I wasn't defending Descartes as much as I was attacking Jensen for a clear mistake. I made no comment on whether or not I advocated Descartes' position, only that what Jensen took to be the meaning of particular phrase to be clearly mistaken.

And feeling has to be a form of mental activity because it relies so much on the brain. Things can't tug on the heart strings without an image being recognised as a loved one from the store of our memories. That things might be experientially felt in parts of our bodies does not mean that the mind is uninvolved and there is no mental activity, because just like humankind and our place in the world, everything in the body is interconnected so that the mind's influence where we feel is analogous to the flutter of a butterfly's wings in Borneo influencing the decisions of a bureaucrat in Belarus.

Come what may, though, I want Dr. Seuss to be my spiritual guide.