"I Think, Therefore I Am"

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Last Updated on January 19, 2017, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 179

Context: Descartes was one of the world's most brilliant thinkers, who devised integral calculus while very young and founded analytical geometry. He applies mathematical methods to philosophic speculation. All truth, he maintains, must be capable of proof, and not merely accepted as coming from authorities. Beginning with the one axiom...

(The entire section contains 179 words.)

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Context: Descartes was one of the world's most brilliant thinkers, who devised integral calculus while very young and founded analytical geometry. He applies mathematical methods to philosophic speculation. All truth, he maintains, must be capable of proof, and not merely accepted as coming from authorities. Beginning with the one axiom he can accept, cogito ergo sum, sometimes put into English as "I think, therefore I am," he goes on to build his universe intellectually, but on entirely mechanical foundations, with God and man's soul specifically exempted. Thomas Hobbes (1586-1679) follows Descartes in applying mechanical principles to mind and matter.

. . . In the words I think therefore I must exist, there is nothing at all which gives me assurance of their truth beyond this, that I see very clearly that in order to think, it is necessary to exist, I concluded that I might take as a general rule, the principle, that all the things which we very clearly and distinctly conceive are true, only observing, however, that there is some difficulty in rightly determining the objects which we distinctly perceive.

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