In Part 1 we covered Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle. Today we are time-traveling all the way forward past the Dark Ages and into an era both important historical scholars and I like to call "The Fruity Years." I'm devoting the entire entry to this one dude, as his contributions to modern thought were so far-reaching and influential that he truly deserves a dedicated entry in some random comedian's blog. Also, I was tired of talking about philosophy and wanted to go back to watching 30 Rock. To find out just who this important 17th century thinker is, read more after... THE JUMP!
Even though this guy had a lady's name, he was all dude when it came to fathering modern philosophy. You know how you go out to a bar and have a few cocktails and suddenly, in the dim light of the bar and the dizzying excitement of intoxication, everybody looks attractive and you go home with someone you regret? Descartes invented that. He saw Classic Philosophy at a bar, lookin' all sexy, and he walked right up to Classic Philosophy and sexed it but good. In the morning, he said he could not stay for breakfast because he had an early meeting in Dordrecht. Nine months later, Modern Philosophy was born.
Descartes is perhaps best known for being the guy who said "I think, therefore I am", which is the world's first catchphrase. Descartes first made this phrase famous when playing beloved character Bernard le Voisin Loufoque on the hit sitcom Poitrine Amis. "Sitcom", of course, is short for "Sit Completely Still and Look at the King to See If He is Laughing and If He is Laughing You May Laugh" - a VERY popular form of entertainment for 17th century French noblemen.
Hey, have you ever been computing your little heart out in a math class and stopped to wonder, "Hey! Why all the letters? Isn't this a MATH class?" Well, this a-hole is the guy who pretty much invented replacing numbers in math problems with letters. So next time you can't spell your analytic geometry problem, take a trip to the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés and piss on this guy's grave. That'll show him!
Finally, Descartes is perhaps best known for his his theory of mind-body dualism, which is the whole idea that the mind and body are separate but interacting agents that are distinctly subject to the laws of nature. While they exist in different realms (ie, material vs non-material), they do exert influence on one another. Descartes believed that the pineal gland was the site of mind-body interaction, aka "the seat of the soul. Of course, as anybody who has ever listened to a George Clinton track knows, the seat of the soul is in your booty.
Descartes' legacy is apparent in almost every academic field: mathematics, physics, neuroscience, psychology, anatomy, medicine, philospophy, literature. Also, he wrote The Matrix. However, his screenwriting credit was removed following a dispute with Keanu Reeves over an old project. Let's just say it's not an accident that Descartes is absent from the final cut of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.
I hope you had PHUN with Philosophy with me today. If you didn't, then next time: bring more NACHOS.