You and I like to think. Some like Golf, others like Prada. We like to think. But then what happens if we get very attached to this Thinking Business, begin to see ‘Thinking’ as Who/What we are?
The moon-landing was faked. Doughnuts widen arteries. My mother really loves me. Perhaps, perhaps not.
But I don’t have these insidious doubts about whose thoughts are bouncing around in my head.
The thoughts in my head are my thoughts. What happens in my mind is mine! mine! mine!
There is nothing else on the planet that is so taken for granted as belonging to ‘Me’ as ‘My Thoughts’. That’s why it is so real. As long as I have my thoughts, I have me.
I can wear your cuff-links and you can borrow my cologne but my thought is my thought and your thought is your thought.
I might own a Bentley and only leg into silk underwear. But my thoughts are closer to me than both.
So it was that Rene Descartes, founder of Cartesian method and Father of Western Academic Philosophy exclaimed:
‘Thinking. At last I have discovered it- Thought. This alone is inseparable from me.’
‘I am Thinking. Therefore I am’: Cogito ergo sum.
René Descartes, like Aristotle before him and Kant and Leibniz after, and in sharp contrast to most other philosophers, knew when he was edging the territory of the absurd. His rationale was more nuanced than the standard academic bumper-sticker interpretation. I’ll get to it later in his less-known letters.