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Rene Descartes

Despite the fact that Rene Descartes has fundamentally influenced modern Western culture and traditions, people are relatively unaware of the nature of his contributions. As has been the case with other great Western artists and thinker, Descartes has become commodified: People only know about his philosophy to the extent that he has been successfully used to sell things - either the idea of philosophy itself or some product. Just as the Mona Lisa seems at this point to have been used to sell nearly everything, Descartes' declaration that "I think therefore I am" is also used as a sales pitch. This paper examines the way in which Descartes has become incorporated into popular culture in a number of ways, a process that has tended to distort - through the process of extreme dilution - the essentials of his philosophy.

This paper focuses on Descartes both because many people today do not understand his theories because he is one of the most important of all of the modern philosophers in terms of his lasting influence on Western thought. His concept of dualism was not, of course, entirely original to him: One of the reasons that he is so important as a philosopher is that he chose to crystallize thinking about an epistemological issue that was already fundamentally important to Western society. However, through his thinking and his writing on this topic, he succeeded in making dualism and dualistic thinking even more deeply entrenched in Western thought than it would probably otherwise have been. To understand why Descartes' mantra of "I think therefore I am" has been successfully been incorporated (if in a corrupted fashion) into popular culture we have first to understand how he became so important in a very different realm, that of philosophy itself.

Arguably the most important work that Rene Descartes wrote and the one that most succinctly summarizes his philosophy is Meditations, in which he begins by doubting everything. We ca...

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Rene Descartes. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 03:21, January 31, 2023, from