Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ayn Rand on Descartes, the Founder of Modern Philosophy

Descartes began with the basic epistemological premise of every Witch Doctor (a premise he shared explicitly with Augustine): “the prior certainty of consciousness,” the belief that the existence of an external world is not self-evident, but must be proved by deduction from the contents of one’s consciousness—which means: the concept of consciousness as some faculty other than the faculty of perception—which means: the indiscriminate contents of one’s consciousness as the irreducible primary and absolute, to which reality has to conform. What followed was the grotesquely tragic spectacle of philosophers struggling to prove the existence of an external world by staring, with the Witch Doctor’s blind, inward stare, at the random twists of their conceptions—then of perceptions—then of sensations.
When the medieval Witch Doctor had merely ordered men to doubt the validity of their mind, the philosophers’ rebellion against him consisted of proclaiming that they doubted whether man was conscious at all and whether anything existed for him to be conscious of.
(For the New Intellectual)

1 comment:

Free Speech Czar said...

This is a fascinating reveal about Descartes that is immediately obvious to anyone who has read his works.

I am still thinking about Rose Wilder Lane's book "The Discovery of Freedom," and it strikes me that although she was wrong on the role of religion in the development of freedom in the West, her principle of internal and outward control, when applied without prejudice, leads one to conclude that believers in religion do so because they have an inner craving for some external control of their environments, whether by an imaginary figure(s) or by those who act in these imaginary figure(s) names.

As such, religion preps people psychologically to accept control of their external environments as a proxy to controlling themselves - causing believers to not only abdicate responsibility for their own lives to others (many will say things like "it's all in God's hands") but also leading them to lose the most precious thing a living being on this earth has - its life.