Cogito Ergo Sum

In your column about whether or not fire is alive, a quote of Decarte’s quote appeared. Recent research in neurobiology is showing this to be an ineffective assumption. Despite my Catholic altar boy Latin, I’m not sure how to express what the researchers found, but would be something like “Sum Ergo Cogito.”

Human beings are wired such that in order for them to think, they first have to be. The lower layers of the nervous system hierarchy coupled with the chemicals coursing through the bloodstream give us our sense of self. In order for us to contemplate anything outside or even inside of ourselves, this sense of self must be available.

This is a very poor summation of what I’ve been reading in the book “The Feeling of What Happens”, but you can read it for yourself and tell me if I’ve interpreted this incorrectly.

But that has nothing to do with cogito ergo sum, really.

Descartes was trying to determine if God existed. First, though, he needed a starting point for his thinking. This is where the Cogito comes in.

Cogito ergo sum. I think, therefore (I can prove to myself that) I am.

Of course people need to exist to think - that is a basic assumption of the Cogito.

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Why don’t we consider fire alive? What is life? (12-Dec-1997)

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The column in question was written in '97, which I asume was the AOL days. The line in question (“Cogito Ergo Sum”), Cecil says, comes from the SDMB:

Anyone remember who, exactly, was witty enough to be quoted by CA?