Friday, October 5, 2012

Quote of the Week - Thomas Merton

“Nothing could be more alien to contemplation than the “cogito ergo sum” of Descartes. “I think, therefore I am.” This is the declaration of an alienated being, in exile from his own spiritual depths, compelled to seek some comfort in a proof for his own existence (!) based on the observation that he “thinks.” If his thought is necessary as a medium through which he arrives at the concept of his existence, then he is in fact only moving further away from his true being.

At the same time, by also reducing God to a concept, he makes it impossible for himself to have any intuition of the divine reality which is inexpressible. He arrives at his own being as if it were an objective reality, that is to say he strives to become aware of himself as he would of some “thing” alien to himself. And he proves that the “thing” exists. He convinces himself: “I am therefore some thing.” And then he goes on to convince himself that God, the infinite, the transcendent, is also a “thing,” an “object,” like other finite and limited objects of our thought!" -- Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation


George Patsourakos said...

Descartes' belief and primary premise of life, "I think, therefore I am," conveys that he knows he exists because he can think about his existence.
Descartes knows that he is not having a dream -- or living in a dreamworld -- because of his ability to think, and he believes that critical thinking is the most important attribute an individual can possess.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Descartes wanted to find a solid premise upon which to proceed to other certainties. Merton understood this but looks at the premise from the perspective of the Roman Catholic mystic.