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The Cogito Ergo Sum is the heart of Cartesian philosophy and represents the starting point of his method It set Descartes apart from the Scholastics who began with real things in a really existing world He was obviously influenced by the Protestant Reformation and its challenge of authority tradition and medieval Aristotelianism Opposing himself to this tradition Descartes began simply within the certitude of self as a thinking being Like the pre-Socratics Descartes was searching for the first principle This self-evident principle for him was the cogito ergo sum If I doubt the existence of things then I think and if I think I am This principle inaugurates the great anthropocentric shift in philosophy John Paul II pg 51 and links us to the first rule of his method The cogito had its beginning in small hot German apartment where Descartes began to reflect upon his own knowledge and its sources He began by imagining the most perfect building of which he feels called to be the architect of and which cannot be constructed using the old walls ie wisdom of the ages of the past but must begin with an entirely new foundation and a sigle founder Therefore the founding principle of his new method is to overturn and scatter to the four winds all that men had tried to build up through past ages and must make a clean sweep of all thinking that has been possible up to his time Maritain pg 23 The first rule of Descartes method then is to accept nothing as true which he didnt clearly recognize to be so He would only accept that which is clearly and distinctly in his mind and the only thing which initially meets this mathematically certainty is self-existence Man is reduced to a thinking thing We cannot even say that we are a thinking being in a body since our senses may be deceiving us into thinking we are
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