descartes

Academic Progression

Every once in a while some graffiti lingers around in my head, waiting for a place to be archived. Perhaps it needs to be integrated into my worldview, or perhaps just discarded, or perhaps neither of the two, but classified amongst the other funny tidbits I have come across. And then there was this little piece of academic (semi-)obscenity, written casually but clearly on a wall in the academic Latin Quarter. Yes. Funny at first sight and perhaps even a little insightful…

It is a play on words with Descartes‘ famous maxim –Cogito ergo sum– only a few streets away from his Parisian address. Descartes had come to the discovery of this maxim after a profound philosophical doubt. “I think, therefore I am”, or “I am a being which receives impressions”, which had become the cornerstone on which the rest of his worldview was to be based. And with that, Descartes became the father of modern philosophy.

Fast forward a few hundred years and everyone knows both him and his maxim. But the time of grand philosophical structures has passed. Mocking a basis for a structure of knowledge and affirming ones own existence through a very personal experience is what this quote does. Coïto ergo sum. I have sex, therefore I am. No grand truth, but the subjective experience of living; the full charm of Existentialism. If this was the same young man who used to clamour “Freedom is for Animals”, I think we can safely assume he is back in business, and feeling a whole lot better.

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