Who would win in a fight of the intellects between one of the greatest philosophers of our time and a small, lowly pug? The answer, no matter how obvious it seems, is not a human one!
Join me today as I tell you the story of the greatest intellectual match in the history of the world. Man vs Dog. West vs East. The Father of Modern Science against the Pug That Cannot Eat By Himself.
Rene Descartes vs Kal the Pug
The stage for this battle was set centuries ago when a lonely man in France going by the name of Descartes started doubting everything around him. “I think, therefore I am.” The edgy boy claimed, and with that started the laying of the groundwork of modern scientific methodology. We doubt everything. As scientists, we are supposed to doubt as many things as possible. But this isn’t the main point of Descartes’ philosophy that this battle is about. This, is a battle of the minds. The times in late 18th century were one of great social upheaval for Europe. Everything in the world could be questioned and there was nothing that was scared, not even god.
Descartes, a deeply religious man, was afraid of what the end result of such scientific vigour would be. He thought that we would end up becoming completely separate from supernatural explanations and start believing in the magical powers of science and physical matter instead. He wasn’t okay with this. Which religious person ever is? And so, in a state of little bit of insecurity, he made a simple proposal.
Let us study every bodily matter through the method of science. The heart, the brain, the eyes, the nose and everything that could be physically seen could be scientifically studied but the consciousness, the awareness that we have of our own existence was not physical. Our mind, was not a physical object. Our soul was not a physical object and thus we should keep the mind and body separate and study only the body.
If keeping the mind away from the ambit of rigorous science was not enough, he also made sure that no sneaky non-human animals could fall upon the study of the mind either. In a moment of non-humanophobia, Descartes made a sweeping claim, “Animals are not conscious beings who can think. They are simply driven by their instincts. They cannot think. Only humans can do that.” (I may be paraphrasing but you get the point)
And just like that, the first act of this battle was concluded. Little did Descartes know that almost 200 years after his death, a small pug would take birth in a land far far away and completely nullify his disdain for the non-human minds.
To be Continued….