open letter - Megan Lawless Com L 114 October 4 2007 An...

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Megan Lawless Com L 114 October 4, 2007 An Open Letter to René Descartes Mr. Descartes: I would first like to let you know that I greatly admire your efforts to explore the constitution of the self. There should be more people like you that recognize the importance of understanding the complexity of the self. In fact, I have recently been devoting much of my own time to uncovering the important components of the self. It has been through these studies that I have discovered how greatly lacking your definition of the self is. You seem to focus a great deal on the simple fact that you are a “thing that thinks”. Of course no one would try to dispute this truth, but what exactly is its significance? If your ability to think, specifically to self-reflect, is your greatest achievement, then I must say that you have hardly come further than the lowliest of the animals. I invite you to contemplate for a moment the type of existence you are describing: man, separated from his body, from nature, from society, doing nothing more than thinking about what he is. And what is man at that point? Having no effect on the outside world, on objects, concrete things, he can see nothing more in himself than a man alienated from everything that matters, everything that he is or could be. Man is nothing until he has an effect on the world around him and can see his self reflected in his work. Where would we be today if the people who invented ink and paper had decided that such things were unimportant? They could have sat in there rooms, much as you do, and the world would know
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nothing of your work. Who would know the name of Leonardo da Vinci if we did not see his
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