Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I think

The thoughtful fellow above is one Rene Descartes born this day 1596 in Indre-et-Loire, France. The son of a member of the provincial parliament, young Rene graduated from a local Jesuit school, and was sent off to university to obtain his degree. This degree was to satisfy his father's wish, that Rene become a lawyer. Thankfully, fate took a hand, and M. Descartes joined the army to participate in the Thirty Years' War, it was while serving in this war that his destiny was revealed to him. While stationed at Neuburg, Germany, Descartes had three dreams which were to determine the course of his life. Deeply affected by these dreams, and with what he believed they meant, he decided that the study of science would be the path to true wisdom, and thereafter dedicated his life to that study. Thus, the world was saved from having another fucking lawyer foisted upon it, and science gained a pretty fair thinker. After the war, he returned to France, where some shrewd investments made him well off enough to pursuit his dream of studying science. He moved to the Dutch Republic, and enrolled at the University of Leiden to study Mathematics. After that, he became a bit of a vagabond, living in at least 14 different cities over the next 11 years, while writing what would be his major works. On of these works was the "Discourse on the Method" which was one of the first philosophical books I was exposed to while pursuing my own degree, and even though that was many, many moons ago, I still can recall the pleasure of reading Descartes' writing(s). He has been rightfully called the Father of Modern Philosophy, and his thought contains a degree of rationalism that I remain enamoured of all of these years later. He is most remembered for his declaration Cogito, ergo, sum (I think, therefore I am). A lot of the worlds philosophy can be traced to those three little Latin words, and rightfully so. I am on the side of the thinker(s) rather than the doer(s) in this world. Partly because I am a lazy, lazy man, but mostly because I feel that if you are thinking (no matter what about, but try to have a least 10 minuets of deep thought a day), you are being, not just existing. There is a fine line between those two things (at least in my opinion), but the line is there nonetheless. I wish I lived up to that level of thinking daily, but I fear that sometimes I just wool gather. Read some of his writings, and ponder them when you have the chance, it will be well worth your time. He so impressed the Queen of Sweden at the time (a past heroine), that he was asked to move to that cold, dark land and become her personal tutor. He died there on February 11th, 1650, of pneumonia probably because he just was not used to the climate. So, for teaching me that thinking is the first step to being, and showing us the rational way of looking at things, Rene Descartes (March 31st, 1596-February 11th, 1650, at the age of 50), you are my (217th) hero of the day.

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