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The British Archive of  the Italian Doctor-Writer's  Prose and Political  and  Onto-Philosophical  Critiques

Published by
The British Antonio Rossin Appreciation Society
Preston  England

With the kind permission of the author




Antonio Rossin
Neurologist - Family Doctor
45010, Ca' Vendramin (RO) Italy

www.flexible-learning.org



Dr. Antonio Rossin is a much respected Italian family practitioner, researcher and campaigner involved in the promotion of a greater public understanding of  the connection between language learning and mind self-framing in children, from which either rigid conservative or autonomous flexible behaviors follow in people. Focusing on an awareness of reification, flexibility, Rossin's educative model prevents the formation of addictions, and thereby from the incipience and internalisation of a fundamentalist attitude.



I THINK - THEREFORE GOD AND I EXIST
THE REIFICATION OF THE *I* IN THE CARTESEAN COGITO

Copyright 2009

By Antonio Rossin and Jud Evans


Reifications (like biological entozoic infections of the gut) are proto-socio-neurological enculturations and as useful fictions are not necessarily symbiotic with, nor necessarily benignly adjuvant to the welfare of their unwitting and often naive hosts.
Jud Evans. "Reification and the Philosophy of the Unreal"

Freedom in humans consists of the ability to liberate oneself from the tyranny of reificationalist imprinting. Antonio Rossin. "Democracy, Religion, Drugs".





THE REIFICATION OF THE *I* IN THE COGITO
 
12/08/2009 
Antonio Rossin writes



Jud Evans:
The reificationalist habit  in human communication has become seriously dangerous, so much so that a corresponding neurological imprinting has taken place. The question thus becomes, whether this imprinting is the outcome of genetic inheritance or is educationally acquired dialectically in the familial setting and wider social domain? But this is another kettle of fish.

Antonio Rossin:
Reading your very interesting formula in your dissertation: Philosophy and the Reification of the Unreal ( 2007) a question comes to my mind:

                                               Cui prodest, the cogito ergo sum?

To the advantage of whom, goes the affirmation:  

                                                   " I am, just because I think"? 

It seems to me, the first ones to take advantage of this existential affirmation, are those in need of confirming the existence of the " I " - starting from their own "I"  obviously - into it becoming reinforced, proved and approved, intrinsically unquestionable: in a single word - reified.

If so, Descartes'  merit  would  be in having provided the cogito for the benefit  of  those people who subscribe to such beliefs with a snappy  wording which satisfies their existential wish-fulfillments. 

Hence, the core of the whole question would not be the Cogito ergo sum but rather, it  reflects the reificationalist  automatic pattern of behaviour 'in principle and in execution'.

I completely agree with you  that  this reificationalist habit - has become  seriously dangerous, so much so that a corresponding  neurological   imprinting has taken place. The question thus becomes, whether this imprinting is the outcome of genetic inheritance or is educationally acquired?   But this is another kettle of fish.

Jud Evans:
Yes Antonio. Your profound and percipient observation raises another equally interesting question. But first I agree completely that in the Cartesian sense of *I* the cogito is a crude attempt at the reification of the soul, for otherwise he could of quite as easily declared:

                    *I sit before the fire watching beeswax melt - therefore I exist*

Such an equally absurd ontological tautologic redundancy would have also worked to fool the less enlightened elements within philosophical community into viewing it as:   *a profound* remark.

His choice of positing: *a thinking *I* as existing, rather than: *a sitting, watching *I* that is existing, is informative and pregnant with meaning. Even a merely tenuous reference to a body (which *sitting* and *watching* implies, would have introduced the corporeal concept of a human soma into the formulation aimed at confirming an existence of the *I* which would immediately exclude the reification of the apparently *en-souled version of *I* which was the whole purpose of his theologically motivated thingification of an existing dualistic *mind.*

As to the precise nature of his theologically motivated thingification, we have Richard  Sansom to thank for providing  Damasio's observation, that the speaking of the cogito may also have served the clever purpose of accommodating religious pressures of which Descartes was keenly aware, and that the latter is a possibility, but there is no way of finding out for sure.
[1] Antonio Damasio.  Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain

For me an understanding of the errors at the heart of the Cartesian system, (which we will see in a moment) lies in Descartes's discussion of the *equivocal theory of substance.*

The Cartesian reification of his theological version of existence can be extrapolated from the *I think - therefore I am*  formulaic rendering of the cogito as follows:

                                           *I think  - therefore God and I exist.*

This conforms to his statement which claims to establish God as the only one substance which can be understood to depend upon no other thing whatsoever, and that in the case of all other substances, he perceives that they can only exist with the help of God's concurrence.

Ergo - of him and God existing at the same time.

He expresses his definition of substance thus:

*In the case of those items which we regard as things or modes of things, it is worthwhile examining each of them separately. By substance we can understand nothing other than a thing which exists in such a way as to depend on no other thing for its existence. And there is only one substance which can be understood to depend on no other thing whatsoever, namely God. In the case of all other substances, we perceive that they can exist only with the help of God's concurrence. Hence the term substance does not apply univocally, as they say in the Schools, to God and to other things; that is, there is no distinctly intelligible meaning of the term which is common to God and his creatures.*
[2] Descartes. Principles of Philosophy. Philosophical Writings of Descartes P. 210. 51. Cambridge University Press.

This means that in Descartes employing the device of the cogito to establish the existence of the *I* and at the same time attempting to confirm the synchronal existence of God without which no other substance can exist, for to invoke the insubstantial human mental *I* was to invoke it as a substance and is a classical example of the reification, which is to regard something abstract as if it were a concrete material thing As again Richard points out, Descartes claimed to have seen an apparition of The Virgin Mary. Furthermore, according to *Descartes' Dream*,[2] Descartes was so bewildered by all this that he began to pray. He assumed his dreams had a supernatural origin. He vowed he would put his life under the protection of the Blessed Virgin and go on a pilgrimage from Venice to Notre Dame de Lorette, travelling by foot and wearing the humblest-looking clothes he could find. Does this bizarre behaviour reassure us in any way that when Descartes strayed from the narrow confines of mathematics and geometry he could be trusted to think rationally?
[3] Book: Descartes' Dream: The World According To Mathematics. 2005. Dover Publications.

*I* is simply a pseudonym of a consciousness of one's own identity. It is a reference to the catalogue of self-referential neologisms that mankind has created as synonyms for the primitive belief of early man that objects, including man himself, contain a *spirit* - an incorporeal, supernatural vital principle or animating force or fundamental emotional and activating principle determining one's character variously referred to as: *the self, ego, psyche, soul, mind, nous, noesis, cognitive content, episteme, anima, spirit, etc. which are characteristic terminology of the object-action dualist. Such philosophical foolishness reminds me of the Trobriand Islander (today officially known as the Kiriwina Islands) who traipsed around the beach clutching an empty coca cola bottle. The old man and the empty bottle were inseparable. When asked why he carried it about endlessly, day after day, the old fellow replied that the spirit of his grandfather had taken up residence therein.

Apart from the different spiritual venue involved or the alternative localisation of the liberated soul (residence in a putative *heaven* rather than in a coca cola bottle) humanities'perception of the occult dimension don't seemed to have changed much over the millennia between the more affluent and better educated societies Western world and the beach-dwellers of the Indian Ocean? Ah well! It's a question of *horses for courses* I suppose? But this is yet another kettle of fish.




Rossin  
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