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Posts Tagged ‘René Descartes

Meditations on First Philosophy/The Love Below…

So, it turns out that Rene Descartes and Andre Benjamin of Outkast have in common rather unconvincing proofs…

From (medical student and nice guy) Sanjay Kulkarni’s wonderful web comic Cowbirds in Love.

As we ponder the the depths of demonstrability, we might recall that it was on this date in 1962 that Izvestia informed its Russian readership that baseball had actually been invented by Russians (and transmitted to the U.S. by emigres who’d brought a 14th century game, lapta, with them).

A  game of lapta, c. 1900 (source)

Vin Extraordinaire…

As if Vietnamese snake wine—prepared by steeping a snake (preferably a venomous one) in rice wine—weren’t disconcerting enough, there’s snake bile wine. The forbidding drink is prepared by mixing rice wine with the greenish-black bile taken from the gallbladder of a freshly sliced cobra.

More oenophilic out-of-the-ordinariness at Food & Wine’s “World’s Weirdest Wines.”

As we reconsider temperance, we might recall that it was on this date in 1619, after the Vigil of the Feast of St. Martin of Tours, that Rene Descartes had his famous dream (actually a series of three dreams that night)– that ignited his commitment to treat all systems of thought developed to date, especially Scholasticism, as “pre-philosophical,” and– starting from scratch (“Cogito, ergo sum”)– to create anew.

Of these three dreams, it is the third that best expresses the original thought and intention of Rene Descartes’ rationalism. During the dream that William Temple aptly refers to as, “the most disastrous moment in the history of Europe,” Descartes saw before him two books. One was a dictionary, which appeared to him to be of little interest and use. The other was a compendium of poetry entitled Corpus Poetarum in which there appeared to be a union of philosophy with wisdom. Moreover, the way in which Descartes interpreted this dream set the stage for the rest of his life-long philosophical endeavors. For Descartes, the dictionary stood merely for the sciences gathered together in their sterile and dry disconnection; the collection of poems marked more particularly and expressly the union of philosophy with wisdom. He indicates that one should not be astonished that poets abound in utterances more weighty, more full of meaning and better expressed, than those found in the writings of philosophers. In utterances which appear odd when coming from a man who would go down in history as the father of Rationalism, Descartes ascribes the “marvel” of the wisdom of the poets to the divine nature of inspiration and to the might of phantasy, which “strikes out” the seeds of wisdom (existing in the minds of all men like the sparks of fire in flints) far more easily and directly than does reason in the philosophers. The writings of the professional philosophers of his time, struck Descartes as failing to supply that certitude, human urgency, and attractive presentation which we associate with a wise vision capable of organizing our knowledge and influencing our conduct.  (Peter Chojnowski)

And so was born the Modern Age in the West, and the particular form of Rationalism that characterizes it.

Many scholars suggest that Descartes probably “protests too much” when he insists in his autobiographical writings that he had abstained from wine for some time before the night of his oh-so-significant slumber.

Rene Descartes (source)


Great minds…

From College Binary, a series of “Three Minute Philosophy” lessons….

Consider this refresher on the thinking of Rene Descartes:

From Aristotle to Kant, illuminations awaits one at Three Minute Philosophy.

(Warning number one:  some of the language is… well, decidedly non-academic.  Warning number two:  our instructor is from Brisbane– so readers should brace themselves for an Australian accent… thus warned, watch away– they’re quite wonderful.)

As we console ourselves that we think, therefore we are, we might recall that it was on this date in 1875 that Black Bart (Charles Bolles), a poet with a fondness for Wells Fargo, robbed his first stagecoach, the Sonora to Milton stage, in Calaveras County, California — the same stage line he targeted in his last heist (his 29th) in 1883– after which he left a taunting verse in the empty money box.

Here I lay me down to sleep

To wait the coming morrow,

Perhaps success, perhaps defeat,

And everlasting sorrow.

Let come what will, I’ll try it on,

My condition can’t be worse;

And if there’s money in that box

‘Tis munny in my purse.

Black Bart

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education”…


Mark Twain’s quip has found an altogether modern kind of expression on the web, where entrepreneurs and enthusiasts have expanded from the how-to space (c.f. Instructables, …for Dummies, et al.) to arenas that were until recently the undisputed province of the traditional educational establishment. Two of your correspondent’s favorites:

Khan Academy is–literally– the brainchild of Salmon Khan, a 33 year-old who has no PhD and has never taught.  Khan quit his job as a financial analyst and began to produce short simple videos on the sorts of topics covered in advanced high school and college classes.  As The Chronicle of Higher Education reports, Khan has posted over 1400 videos on YouTube, covering everything from basic arithmetic and algebra to differential equations, physics, chemistry, biology and finance.

Squashed Philosophy is the work of Glyn Hughes:  “The books which defined the way we think now.
Their own ideas, in their own words, neatly honed into little half-hour or so reads”…  and so they marvelously are.

(TotH to reader PR for the CHE reference.)

As we resolve to improve ourselves, we might recall that today is the birthday of scholar and critic Adrien Baillet; he was born on this date in 1649.  While Baillet was on the faculty at the college of Beauvais, served as librarian to François-Chrétien de Lamoignon,  and was advocate-general to the Parlement de Paris, he is best remembered as the biographer of René Descartes.

Adrien Baillet

Putting Mr. Lincoln to work…

“The place for people to share things they’re willing to do for $5”: Fiverr…  (Also worth checking out: the source of the image above, Vandalize George.)

As we try to divine whether we’re the victims of inflation or deflation, we might recall that it was on this date in 1636 that Utrecht University was founded.  It’s alumni include scholar Perizonius , mathematician and philosopher René Descartes, biographer James Boswell, zoologist Frans de Waal, and Nobel Laureates (Physics) Tjalling Charles Koopmans and Wilhelm Röntgen…  and it’s still going strong.

17th c. botanical garden at the University

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