Descartes' Loneliness Poem by Allen Grossman

Descartes' Loneliness

(Meditation Three)

Toward evening, the natural light becomes
Intelligent and answers, without demur:
"Be assured! You are not alone. . . ."
But in fact, toward evening, I am not
Convinced there is any other except myself
To whom existence necessarily pertains.
I also interrogate myself to discover
Whether I myself possess any power
By which I can bring it about that I,
Who now am, shall exist another moment.
Because I am mostly a thinking thing
And because this precise question is
Only from that thoughtful part of myself,
If such a power did reside within me
I should, I am sure, be conscious of it. . . .
But I am conscious of no such power.
And yet, if I myself cannot be
The cause of that assurance, surely
It is necessary to conclude that
I am not alone in the world. There is
some other who is the cause of that idea.
But if, at last, no such other can be
found toward evening, do I really have
sufficient assurance of the existence
or of any other being at all? For,
after a most careful search, I have been
unable to discover the ground of that
conviction - unless it be imagined a lonely
workman on a dizzy scaffold unfolds
a sign at evening and puts his mark to it.

Kim Barney 18 February 2015

Of course you know that Descartes was famous for saying: I think, therefore I am. Well, did you ever hear how Descartes met his end? A friend of his came up to him one day and asked, Say, Old Chap, do you think I'm good looking? Descartes replied: I think not. and POOF! he disappeared just like that!

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