Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Facebook Peril

I just tried to make a closed event on Facebook, but it showed up on everyone's screens. Its one of those moments went all you can utter is:

Monday, 19 October 2009


My slippers officially have a gaping chasm in them now. Which is a bit annoying, especially as its getting some what chilly...

Sunday, 11 October 2009

The Cogito

Quite simply, 'the cogito' is the first thing that resists Descartes method of doubt, and is therefore indubitable. Descartes states that if he doubts everything then he can at least claim that he is doubting. ie. he cannot doubt that he doubts. This is expanded on to mean that thinking cannot be doubted, and if thoughts can't be doubted, then thoughts exist.

Furthermore, if our thoughts exist, then don't we also exist? Our body might not be real, but our thoughts are, which means that - 'I think, therefore I exist'. To quote Descartes: "I am, I exist". If this were to be put in a proper argument form, then it would be:
  • Everything that thinks exists.
  • I am thinking.
  • I am existing.

(In the meditations Descartes never says: "I think therefore I am", but he says it in a response to a criticism). Now Descartes has the foundations for existence, and can begin to build up everything else that must be true, based from the cogito.

So if some wannabe philosopher - after having watched the matrix - asks in a nasally voice: "How can you be sure that you even exist?" Simply reply: "I just think that I do".

Saturday, 10 October 2009

We're jar - min

Today at work I saved a jar. It was this massively huge thing which took up loads of space and no-one played with anymore, but before chef was going to throw it away, I called out
"Nooo, I'll take the jar!"
That's how today, I came home with a fudging big jar (I also put some scones in it before leaving).

Monday, 5 October 2009

Descartes 2: Meditation 1

Descartes' overall aim is to find out what we can actually know for certain, amongst all the knowledge which could be complete rubbish. He then wants to use what he knows for certain to prove God, but that happens later on.

Meditation 1 introduces foundationalism, which is a way of thinking whereby: all knowledge (be it things we see, memories or sums) must have some indubitable knowledge to rely on, otherwise something called an infinite regress happens, when you can't be sure of anything. Descartes thinks he can prove foundationalism, by finding some indubitable knowledge, but to do so, he decides to doubt everything that is possible to doubt, and see what is left. This is called the 'method of doubt', and he does this in 4 big doubting sessions, as scrutinising everything individually would take too long. The 4 groups are called 'waves of doubt':
  1. Our senses may be deceiving us
  2. He may be insane (Descartes doesn't like this one, as if he were mad then he couldn't put forward a good argument, which alienates his audience)
  3. This could all be a big dream
  4. An evil daemon could deceive us to reality

In regards to the senses, Descartes says that there are plenty of tricks that our senses play on us, such as when the moon looks small, but is actually being distorted by perspective, or when you dip a stick in water and it looks bent. just like a friend who has lied to us, we cannot trust them again, and thus; all of our senses could be giving us a false impression of reality.

But if we were to look really closely at a cup, we could be quite sure we are looking at a cup, our senses don't deceive us that much. This is where the possibility of dreaming is brought forward. Descartes claims that sometimes when we dream, we think we are awake, and that even inspecting a cup closely doesn't help, as the cup is just a dream. Everything we see, touch, hear, taste, smell is false in a dream, but isn't it also true that we are not always dreaming? and that we do have experience of reality? Descartes says that he sometimes has dreams that are so alike to reality, that there is the possibility we might not realise when we slip into a dream, and so our whole immediate reality could be false.

However, dreams don't effect many of our thoughts, such as; 1+1=2, as these things must be true even in a dream. But this is where the big fat evil daemon destroys everything. As Descartes believes in god (much like everyone else in those days), he says that - hypothetically - it is equally possible to have an all powerful being, that doesn't love us, and who has fun in deceiving to everything. Because this being is all powerful, he could make us think 1+1=2, when actually 1+1=4. The possibility of the daemon (however absurd) means that EVERYTHING could be doubted. Doesn't it?

Next time: Find out how Descartes saves the day, and finds something indubitable. (clue - "I think therefore I am).

A rather good day

Today was fun. This is why:

  • I bought a milkshake, realised it surpassed my RDA in sugar, so the placebo effect alone got me hyper.
  • Got messy in art.
  • Did acting in English - due to me being one of the loudest and most irritating in the class, I was chosen for the central role of Dr Faustus. I decided to look important by sitting on a wheelie chair, but when I went to grab a prop dagger, I lost my balance and fell flat on my back, taking the contents of a nearby table with me.
  • On the return bus journey we talked about food, then Tamsin & I finally agreed over some music (Newton Falkner is better than Jackass Johnson).
  • I made an improvised cymbal stand for my drum kit, which made me feel Uber creative.

Due to the law that; the universe must equalise itself, an Australian has probably chopped off his hand, gotten divorced and fallen down a piranha infested well.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Philosophy 1: Descartes

Rene Descartes (pronounced re-nay day-cart, not; reen des-cart-es), Philosopher, Mathematician, Frenchman.

You may have heard of this chap, most famous for saying:

"I think therefore I am".

He is widely believed to be the most important modern philosopher of all time, born 1596, died 1650. In this this first installment, we shall look at the strangest aspects of his life, and then in later posts we can study what he has to say:

He gets brought up in a Jesuit school (which influences his philosophy), but convinced his superiors that he had such a bad cough, he couldn't possibly get up before 11 O'clock. He joins an army in Holland (not to actually fight but just for the holiday), yet leaves in 1622 because they force him to wake up early.

By now he is really interested in maths/geometry, and comes up with things like the method of using x and y on graphs, whilst conceiving an illegitimate child with a dutch servant girl. Most of his thinking is done in bed, whislt having a lie-in, sweating it out in an incredibly hot room. It is even thought that he did much of his deep thinking in an oven, but this may have been obscured in translation.

Descartes wants to publish loads of revolutionary theories, but is too scared to, as the likes of Galilao are being arrested for claiming that the earth revloves around the sun. He does however publish his 'Discourse on the method', in which he thinks about thinking.

Descartes most famous work; 'The Meditations', is the most controversial, and isn't published for ages. It challenges everything we think we know, in order to find something which is certain, which causes 'The meditations' to end up being one of the most widley and intensly disscussed theories in history.

In 1650 he is employed as a tutor for Queen Christina of Sweden, but this spells doom for Descartes, as he has to wake up at 5 O'clock in the morning to teach her. This is too much for him to handle, and he dies of early mornings on the 11 Feb 1650.

So there you have it, one of the most interesting Fenchies ever i'd say. So next time your looking for inspiration, do a Descartes, and jump in an oven.

For starters:

To be honest, this blog is entirely inspired by Nancy & Josie, who both have superb blogs themselves. Unlike my friends however, this won't be a daily thing, as most of what I have to say is utter nonsense. I will include the odd joke, insightful thought and witty quip, but I also plan to write out what i'm currently learning in A level philosophy. This is because a few people sometimes ask me what the course involves, and i end up spending hours describing where we get knowledge from, but also; if I can teach others what i'm learning , then it shouldn't be too hard for an examiner to understand.

So, if you give a damn, happy reading.