I think, therefore I appreciate Descartes

It’s been quite a while since I last visited wikiquote.com, and I’ve no doubt missed some excellent quotes by not checking it more often for its Quote of the Day. My favorite today was not the one chosen for this year, by Cesar Chavez (born March 31, 1927), but one from five years ago.

René Descartes was also born on March 31, a little over four centuries ago. He is probably best known for the saying Cogito, ergo sum, translated to English as “I think, therefore I am.” I think I actually learned about him first in math class, and was surprised later to learn that he was a philosopher as well as a mathematician (and a scientist and a writer).

The quotation that particularly caught my attention tonight was this:

Good sense is of all things in the world the most equally distributed, for everybody thinks he is so well supplied with it, that even those most difficult to please in all other matters never desire more of it than they already possess.

Personally I think I could do with a bit more good sense – and I hope it expresses what good sense I have to think so.

As one who seeks truth but also tends toward doubt, I also rather liked this one:

If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.

I am not sure, however, quite what to think of this one:

The first precept was never to accept a thing as true until I knew it as such without a single doubt.

I can much more easily doubt all things than I can claim to know much of anything without a single doubt. I don’t know if that means that Descartes accepted very little as true, or if he was able to deal effectively with his doubts on at least some subjects. Sometime think I would like to learn more about Descartes, though right now it seems my pile of books to read is growing faster than I can read them.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: