Next week in Survey of French Lit class we will be looking at some of the writings of Descartes. His famous je pense, donc je suis (I think, therefore I am) has radically changed the way many people view life, especially the French. They tend to be very skeptical and pride themselves on their reasoning abilities. However in French, just as in English, words can have two different meanings — for instance take the phrase "I rent my garments." Similarly in French je suis can mean either "I am" or "I follow", depending on the context. Sometimes I wonder how things would be in France today if Descartes had really meant, "I think, therefore I follow."
In today's iv, if you can put aside the illogic of all these philosophers, inventors, and scientific/mathematical people being together in the same café at the same time, there are some high-class puns that will definitely add a measure of "gravitas" to ivman's blague.
The Philosophers' Café
René Descartes was sitting in a café. The café owner asked if he would like another espresso. He replied, "I think not." And he vanished!
Pierre and Marie Curie sat there beaming radiantly after Descartes vanished in a puff of smoke.
The café owner then noticed Einstein was there, and he asked him what he thought of what had happened. Einstein replied, "It's all relative."
At another table, Ivan Pavlov drooled, as if Descartes' logical disappearance rang a bell.
Sir Isaac Newton pondered the gravity of the situation.
When the café owner asked Georg Ohm what had happened, but instead of answering, Ohm resisted.
Eli Whitney thought the whole thing was ginned up.
William Harvey said Descartes was now simply out of circulation.
Leonardo da Vinci just smiled mysteriously.
When the café owner asked Heisenberg, "Did you see that?" he replied, "I can't be certain."
Hans Geiger claimed that Descartes never could be counted on.
Enrico Fermi couldn't believe that Descartes had split.
Thomas Edison stated that he found the whole thing illuminating.
Wilbur Wright said he always thought Descartes was a little flighty.
Pythagoras said that something about Descartes' disappearance just didn't square.
Gustav Hertz said he thought Descartes would return to the café in the future with much greater frequency.
Robert Boyle commented that he thought everyone was under too much pressure to come up with an answer to what was happening.
Alexander Graham Bell didn't believe the disappearance for one second. He could telephoney from any distance.
Erwin Schrödinger tried to explain that in the absence of an observer, Descartes left but at the same time did not leave.
But Alessander Volta disagreed, stating there was a potential difference between his staying or going.
James Watt said Descartes had probably had a bad day and just let off a little steam.
Charles Darwin refused to take a stand on the day's events because he was waiting to see what would evolve.
Wilhelm Röntgen thought he could see through the whole thing, but vowed to look more deeply into the matter.
André Ampère helped the café owner ascertain that all the statements about the events were current.
Then the café owner noticed that Carl Sagan was there. He walked over to him and asked, "Can you believe that all these famous people are here in this café when this happened?" Sagan replied, "No. Why, there must be billions and billions of cafés out there...."
I've seen all kinds of spin-offs of Descartes' "I think, therefore I am" — I fish, therefore I am; I dream, therefore I am; I knit, therefore I am; and on and on it could go. Do you have your own "I ---, therefore I am" motto? Have you thought of someone else who could have been in the philosophers' café above, what that person would have said, and what happened? I look forward to your comments.
I'll end this post with a funny picture I received this morning. It's not totally on topic, though some would argue that there are philosophical and scientific aspects to the current subject of media hype that picture satirizes.
Any thoughts on Swine flu (or for the politically correct, H1N1)? Maybe it's nothing to pooh-pooh....
"What do you know that God wants that you're currently not doing?" - Drew Conley
I once tried to microwave instant coffee and went back in time.
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