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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Tu penses donc je suis.

You think therefore I am. Cogitas ego sum. Tu penses donc je suis.

The three parts (Plato) or functions (Aristotle) of the soul are epithymia (appetite), logos (reason), and thymos (spirit) which correspond with the desire to live (food, money and sex), the desire to know (science, philosophy), and the desire to be recognized (courage, character). The capacities for life, thought, and action.

Recognition is a public acknowledgment of a person's merits and status. Courage, for the Greeks, is the willingness to step out of one's private space where life's needs are taken care of and to appear in public. That might be on the battlefield or in the forum risking the slings and arrows of others. This is why Arendt says that power, the ability to act in concert, is the highest of human capacities though of course linked to the abilities to live and to think.

Ego, Freud says, cannot be without id and superego. Mind or what we call conscious self or "I" is an iceberg tip resting on a 98% underwater base of unconsciousness--a mixture of emotion, narrative, frames, and thoughts. And the superego is society and culture with its morality that shapes my self-image and behavior.  Philosophy of mind in dialogue with neuroscience demonstrates that what I experience as me is really a nub of relationships with others past, present, and to come. I do not exist without being seen and recognized and remembered by others.

No wonder that celebrities hunger for recognition and often die when they no longer experience it. Think Marilyn, Nixon, and Trump. These are often people who have no real friends, families, colleagues, and lovers who appreciate them. The more desperate, the more self promoting and louder they become. Maybe that is the genius of Facebook and Linked-In which market meaning for those addicted ones who fear that they are nobodies. Contemporary narcissism is not just seeing one's own reflection in the pond or mirror; it is assessing ourselves by how many "hits" we get. It is not tu, but vous. Not thou, but you-all that the celebrity-addicted mind needs.

But not the friend, lover, and colleague. She needs only another friend, lover, and colleague to exist. And I need only thou--my friend, my lover, my companion in life. I exist because you think of me.

Tu penses donc je suis.


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