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Key Letter By Descartes Found After 170 Years

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the therefore-it-is dept.

Math 165

Schiphol writes of a long-lost letter by René Descartes to Marin Mersenne that has come to light at Haverford College, in Pennsylvania, where it had lain buried in the archives for more than a century. The discovery could revolutionize our view of one of the 17th-century French philosopher's major works. "[T]housands of treasured documents... vanished from the Institut de France in the mid-1800s, stolen by an Italian mathematician. Among them were 72 letters by René Descartes... Now one of those purloined letters has turned up at a small private college in eastern Pennsylvania... The letter, dated May 27, 1641, concerns the publication of Meditations on First Philosophy, a celebrated work whose use of reason and scientific methods helped to ignite a revolution in thought."

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fp! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31285288)

etc

Let the insults begin! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31285308)

Or not...I don't care...it's Friday

I'm guessing the letter was: "é " (4, Funny)

thomasdz (178114) | more than 4 years ago | (#31285326)

Yeah, we don't have that "é " letter in our alphabet, so we must have lost it. However I'm thinking René Descartes may have just stolen it... you know how those French are...

Re:I'm guessing the letter was: "é " (2, Funny)

BlueTrin (683373) | more than 4 years ago | (#31285600)

And this is only one letter, just wait that we find the thousand letters missing, I guess they will not teach anymore alphabet at Kindergarten ...

Logitech will showcase the new 1105 keys keyboard and legendary threads will pop up in slashdot such as "1105 keys ? Ok, but does it come in DVORAK."

Re:I'm guessing the letter was: "é " (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31285876)

What a waste of bandwidth your post is! Why do you hate bandwidth so much? WHY!?!?!

Re:I'm guessing the letter was: "é " (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 4 years ago | (#31287718)

DVORAK

Dvorak isn't named for a segment of the keyboard layout like QWERTY, but for it's inventor. If you want to name the layout by those same (shifted) key positions, you would call it the "PYF layout

- a Dvorak user

Oops (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 4 years ago | (#31287758)

/. eats the "less than" and "greater than" characters, so I guess you'd have to call it ',.PYF

Re:I'm guessing the letter was: "é " (3, Funny)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 4 years ago | (#31285750)

Some "stolen" letters that René Descartes was using and that the English language is not using:

é è ê ô ù à ë ç î

We call these caracters "caractère accentués" in French.

Re:I'm guessing the letter was: "é " (2, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31285884)

You may keep them! Can you imagine how many days I spent learning the friggin' difference between e, é and è? And no, "you can hear it" is NOT a suitable explanation for someone who doesn't know how it's pronounced either!

Friggin' French and their urge to pepper harmless letters with various sorts of crap...

Re:I'm guessing the letter was: "é " (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31286098)

English is worse because you have e, e and e that are pronounced differently, but there is no accent to tell which pronunciation to use.

Re:I'm guessing the letter was: "é " (5, Funny)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#31286146)

Oh, that's not a problem. You can hear it.

Re:I'm guessing the letter was: "é " (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31286918)

But at least it doesn't matter to me while writing. You needn't know how to pronounce something when you use /.. Imagine /. in French!

Re:I'm guessing the letter was: "é " (1)

sammyF70 (1154563) | more than 4 years ago | (#31287472)

slèche-dôte ... easy :P

Re:I'm guessing the letter was: "é " (1)

FishOuttaWater (1163787) | more than 4 years ago | (#31288306)

That's ok, we woulda jist mis-pro-nunciated it anyway.

You got to be kidding! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31286666)

> Can you imagine how many days I spent learning the friggin' difference between e, é and è?

Less days than I spent learning the friggin' difference between "taught" and "laughter".

Not to mention latter, ladder and leather.

My only consolation is that US people also can't write English, just like me.

Re:You got to be kidding! (3, Funny)

eleuthero (812560) | more than 4 years ago | (#31288462)

I do enjoy a good ghoti for lunch.

Re:I'm guessing the letter was: "é " (5, Funny)

Unordained (262962) | more than 4 years ago | (#31286806)

é is like the "eh?" in "Let's go see The Phantom Menace, eh?" (canada)
è is like the "eh." in "The Phantom Menace? Eh. I'm in no mood to ruin my childhood memories."
ê is like an appropriately-angry version of è.

Re:I'm guessing the letter was: "é " (2, Funny)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 4 years ago | (#31288240)

ç

I've never understood the need for this letter, at least the way it is used in Portuguese. There is a restaurant nearby my home called Café Opçao. It's pronounced "ohp-SAO". It's a bloody S! Why don't you just put a bloody S there?!

Re:I'm guessing the letter was: "é " (2, Interesting)

eleuthero (812560) | more than 4 years ago | (#31288500)

Wonderful historical reasons - the cedilla c is pronounced the same as the "s" today. Look back at two hundred year old grammars and there might be a difference (there would be, at least, in Spanish for the c, the z, and the s).

Re:I'm guessing the letter was: "é " (3, Funny)

Bonewalker (631203) | more than 4 years ago | (#31286420)

You guys cn lugh ll you wnt, but I hve letter missing from my keybord, nd it mkes life quite difficult, you insensitive clods!

Meditations on First Philosophy (4, Insightful)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 4 years ago | (#31285410)

Chapter 1 was great, and ended in the pinnacle of the work "I think therefore I am".

After that, he couldn't go any farther, so he decided that you couldn't trust the world without the presence of God. At which point, I lost interest.

Chapter 1: A+
Chapter >1: D

Re:Meditations on First Philosophy (1, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#31285616)

So you are letting your own personal belief structure rate the quality of his work. " I don't believe in God so any argument for the idea must be flawed, I will not bother reading such arguments as my mind is fixed"
It is just like Christian Right not reading Darwin Theory of Evolution, as they will not allow their minds to be open to an opposing idea.

Re:Meditations on First Philosophy (4, Insightful)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#31286188)

I believe his concern is that if you start on false premises, your argument is effectively meaningless. You could derive anything [xkcd.com] .

Re:Meditations on First Philosophy (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31286854)

I believe his concern is that if you start on false premises, your argument is effectively meaningless. You could derive anything [xkcd.com] .

I wouldn't say believing in God is false, it (well Faith) is, by definition, hard/impossible to prove. So saying it's false show the same fixed thought, or just lack of critical thinking in my opinion. And illustrating your response with a cheeky comic is poor taste IMO.

Re:Meditations on First Philosophy (2, Interesting)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 4 years ago | (#31287824)

Actually, I believe in God, I just don't belive in using God as a rationalization for science, as Descartes did in every chapter after 1.

Re:Meditations on First Philosophy (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#31285754)

I think, therefore I am. I am, therfore (I think...)

Re:Meditations on First Philosophy (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31285908)

It's a real pity that so many people don't even know they are not...

Re:Meditations on First Philosophy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31286590)

I think I am ...

Re:Meditations on First Philosophy (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#31288292)

Wait... wasn't that Popeye? It's so easy to get those two confused.

Re:Meditations on First Philosophy (1)

Issarlk (1429361) | more than 4 years ago | (#31285768)

"I think therefore I am" sounds a bit bold an affirmation. It's more like "I think I think, therefore I think I think I think" IMHO.

Re:Meditations on First Philosophy (2, Informative)

digitig (1056110) | more than 4 years ago | (#31286006)

"I think therefore I am" sounds a bit bold an affirmation.

Descartes was aware of that, and tried to resolve it, although his resolution is probably not satisfactory [wikipedia.org] . I suspect that there isn't a resolution.

Re:Meditations on First Philosophy (2, Interesting)

BarryJacobsen (526926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31286378)

"I think therefore I am" sounds a bit bold an affirmation. It's more like "I think I think, therefore I think I think I think" IMHO.

It's not really all that bold. According to my philosophy professors (I was a philosophy major), the statement Descartes made actually translates a bit better to "I think, I am". When taken in context (attempting to doubt every possible thing), this statement means that I can be certain that I am thinking (whatever that may mean, it may mean I am creating the sounds that I hear in my head or it may mean that those sounds are being put into me). If I am thinking, then there is something that definitely exists (otherwise there would be no one to have thought) - and further more that something is me. Everything else in the world may be a lie or deception, but with certainty: I exist by the virtue of having thought (though I may not be what I think I am and the world may not be what I think it is).

Re:Meditations on First Philosophy (2, Informative)

Critical Facilities (850111) | more than 4 years ago | (#31287124)

Sounds familiar [buddhanet.net] .

Re:Meditations on First Philosophy (5, Informative)

SpeedyDX (1014595) | more than 4 years ago | (#31285890)

Descartes might have been wrong, but that's kind of missing the point. During an era when scepticism was viewed as being inherently blasphemous and absurd, he embraced scepticism as a practical philosophy. Descartes, along with Hume and several others during the early modern period, began to establish moderate scepticism as the basis for a practical philosophy of scientific enquiry.

There's no doubting that Descartes made many mistakes in Meditations. But from the fact that the work isn't perfect, it doesn't entail that it wasn't a great and influential work that's brought us one step closer to understanding the nature of reason. One step of many, to be sure, but one step nonetheless.

Also, he didn't say that he can't trust the existence of the world without God. Rather, he gave an ontological argument for God, established His existence, and then, because God exists and He doesn't deceive, Descartes no longer had to justify the existence of the world (without a God). Of course, this is what led to the famed Cartesian circle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cartesian_circle), but your short analysis showed that you didn't really understand the text. As I replied in another thread, Jonathan Bennett is translating early modern works to more modern language, resulting in more clear and accessible works (available: http://www.earlymoderntexts.com/de.html [earlymoderntexts.com] ). I highly encourage that you read it over again and try to get more out of it.

While I'm at it, it seems that a more empirical philosophy would interest you more. Descartes had some influence on Hume's work. Hume's Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is one of the best treatments of the philosophy of science in the early modern era, and definitely my favourite work out of that era. if you're interested, you should definitely check it out: http://www.earlymoderntexts.com/he.html [earlymoderntexts.com]

Re:Meditations on First Philosophy (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#31286228)

So he shifted his flawed argument from "I exist, therefore I exist" to "God exists, therefore I exist?" That's still completely invalid.

Re:Meditations on First Philosophy (2, Insightful)

ENIGMAwastaken (932558) | more than 4 years ago | (#31288372)

"I exist, therefore I exist" is not invalid.

P therefore P is always valid, for any value of P. It's trivial, but anything that's trivially true is valid.

P always follow from P. The implication that the Cogito is invalid is just an absurdity. What you might mean is that it's a tautology, but tautologies are always true. The Meditations makes several dozen laughable logical blunders, but this isn't one of them.

Re:Meditations on First Philosophy (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 4 years ago | (#31287884)

I was more questioning his methods than saying 'right or wrong', although the 'nothing can create something more perfect/complex/etc.' stuff kindof irked me, because it can be taken way to out of context (it fits through thermodynamics, but people have trouble recognizing open systems).

out of body experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31286090)

I think there, ... fore I am!

Re:Meditations on First Philosophy (1)

spiffmastercow (1001386) | more than 4 years ago | (#31286572)

Actually, it was med #2, and he never actually said "I think, therefore I am" in that work, though it sumarizes his point. He declared it not as a conditional statement, but rather as an axiom.

Re:Meditations on First Philosophy (1)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31287740)

I guess now it's: 'He's dead, therefore he isn't'?

Re:Meditations on First Philosophy (1)

SAN1701 (537455) | more than 4 years ago | (#31288194)

Yeah, I felt the same way.

Reminds me of Einstein. Both of them made huge discoveries that ended up scaring them. Einstein negated quantum mechanics (which his works helped create), and even came with a "cosmological constant" when he saw his equations couldn't contemplate a peaceful, organized space in which he (and the rest of the world) believed at that time. Descartes have made such a gigantic leap in thinking, came to the aforementioned conclusion, that even he got scared with the implications and then came with some half-baked "proof" on the existence of God to find some relief.

I don't blame them. They were intellectual giants, but men nevertheless. Men that can be afraid of schocking discoveries, even if they came from their own, powerful, minds.

Rene Descartes (5, Funny)

sxltrex (198448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31285418)

Rene Descartes walks into a bar. The bartender asks "can I get you a beer?" Descartes replies "I think not!" and he disappears.

Thanks, I'm here all week!

Re:Rene Descartes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31285834)

I hope I'm not the only one who got that....

Re:Rene Descartes (3, Funny)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#31285914)

Meh, it's getting a bit stale. Besides, it wasn't really that funny when Decartes told it in 1630.

Correction (2, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#31288024)

Meh, it's getting a bit stale. Besides, it wasn't really that funny when Decartes thought he told it in 1630.

Re:Rene Descartes (2, Funny)

sconeu (64226) | more than 4 years ago | (#31286706)

[MONTY-PYTHON song="Philosophers Song"]
Rene Descartes was a drunken fart, "I drink therefore I am!"
[/MONTY-PYTHON]

It said that Descartes liked turtles. (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31285426)

Turtles [wikipedia.org] .

How about horses? (5, Funny)

naz404 (1282810) | more than 4 years ago | (#31285640)

There was this magnificent mathematical horse. You could teach it arithmetic, which it learned with no difficulty, algebra was a breeze, it could even prove theorems in euclidean geometry, but when you tried to teach it analytic geometry, it would rear back on its hind legs, kick ferociously neigh loudly and make violent head motions in resistance.

The moral of this story is that you can't put Descartes before de horse.

*ducks*

Re:How about horses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31287506)

Isaac Asimov? Are you haunting the Internet from beyond the grave?

Re:It said that Descartes liked turtles. (4, Funny)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#31285666)

It's turtles all the way down, young man.

I'm confused (0)

Jonny_eh (765306) | more than 4 years ago | (#31285432)

Scholars have known of the letter’s existence for more than 300 years, but not its contents. Apparently the only person who had really studied it was a Haverford undergraduate who spent a semester writing a paper about the letter in 1979. (Mr. Bos called the paper “a truly fine piece of work.”)

So did they know it existed or not? Is the news just that the letter is being returned to France? Big deal.

Re:I'm confused (2, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 4 years ago | (#31285670)

Well, the letter itself is incapable of thought, so logic fails when trying to determine whether or not the letter exists.

Re:I'm confused (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#31286264)

Clearly, you are unfamiliar with the Cartesian Circle [wikipedia.org] . It effectively argues that God exists, therefore letters exist.

So (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#31285518)

can we have the text please? (Preferably in a human language)

Re:So (5, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#31285584)

can we have the text please? (Preferably in a human language)

Sorry, it's written in French.

Re:So (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#31288006)

Lousy gibberish!

Re:So (1, Redundant)

SpeedyDX (1014595) | more than 4 years ago | (#31285604)

Which text? Text of the letter? TFA says that "the letter would be published in a collection later this year."

As for the Meditations, Dr. Jonathan Bennett does a wonderful job of translating early modern works into modern English so that they're more clear and accessible. Here are the Meditations: http://www.earlymoderntexts.com/de.html [earlymoderntexts.com]

Re:So (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31285938)

Sure, here you go.

Hey man. You know that whole Meditations thing? Sorry about that. I was totally high when I wrote it. "I think, therefore I am," sounds really deep when you've got orange frogs singing Pink Floyd to you. If you get a chance can you help me retract this thing? I don't want to look like an idiot.

P.S. Do you know what a Pink Floyd is?

heresy (2, Interesting)

rarel (697734) | more than 4 years ago | (#31285520)

Interestingly this comes just a few days after I read an article supporting the theory that Descartes was actually assassinated for his controversial views and his influence on Queen Christina of Sweden, by his own priest to boot.

(in french)

Re:heresy (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31286800)

Wow, he got assassinated in French?!? That's much worse than getting assassinated in English! Oh wait, the _article_ was in French? Never mind!

Re:heresy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31287330)

He has a reputation of being a girlie man in Sweden (all he ever did in Sweden was complaining over the cold and that he had to get up "early" in the morning to give the Queen Regnant lessons). If it could be proved that he died by poisoning, then he would perhaps get a better legacy.

Re:heresy (1)

drjoe1e6 (461358) | more than 4 years ago | (#31288120)

Interestingly this comes just a few days after I read an article supporting the theory that Descartes was actually assassinated for his controversial views and his influence on Queen Christina of Sweden, by his own priest to boot.

Yes, it was very sad. The assassins sent some wild stallions to trample him. I guess that's why you should never put Decartes before the horse.

Could revolutionize? (1, Insightful)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31285530)

Too used to the digital age to think right about it. How something know and being somewhat available for 200 years before they were stolen could revolutionize something now because were recovered? I suppose that now that letters will be available both as scanned images, pdfs, plain text and even google books, but still, if when they were available (and if not well full copies, but at least references could have been made of the critical points) couldn't make a revolution, should have little chance by now.

Re:Could revolutionize? (1)

rpetre (818018) | more than 4 years ago | (#31285730)

Come on, at least try to read the whole phrase before moaning. It says it would revolutionize our views on Meditations on First Philosophy. It's not the digital age, it's the Twitter age :-(

Re:Could revolutionize? (2, Interesting)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31286708)

My point is that if well in digital age i would think normal than copies of it being everywhere, in 1700 still someone could have made copies or somehow made public the critical points, if had something that could revolutionize their views. If they were buried in a private collection where noone could see them and tell that had something revolutionary, then that had being stolen would had made no difference.

DRM violations! (1)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 4 years ago | (#31285606)

Sorry, couldn't resist. Actually I guess it should be ARM with the "A" being analog (remember that?).

Re:DRM violations! (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#31285868)

Actually I guess it should be ARM with the "A" being analog (remember that?).

Well, in reality everything you experience is analog. Even the digital music must be converted to analog before you can hear it.

Re:DRM violations! (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#31286306)

Even the digital music must be converted to analog before you can hear it.

Psh. I listen to all my music as a series of logic pulses directly output from the MP3, and decode it in my head.

Haverford? (1)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | more than 4 years ago | (#31285662)

The letter was found at Haverford. Just out of curiosity, what's that school like? Any grads or current students out there who would like to share?

Re:Haverford? (5, Informative)

buttersnout (832768) | more than 4 years ago | (#31285968)

I graduated from Haverford in 2005. It's a fairly prestigious small liberal arts college outside of Philadelphia (it was ranked 4th when I got in in 2001 but much of its endowment in 9/11 and is now ranked 8th by us news). It's a very liberal college with a quaker history though I believe it no longer has an official religious affiliation. The college is strong in the sciences which is the reason I went there. My faculty advisor, Gerry Gollub, for example, is recognized as a leader in the field of fluid dynamics. It takes pride in its campus and arboretum and I've heard many people with no affiliation with the college say it has the most beautiful campus in the US. Most students take about a quarter of their courses at Bryn Mawr college which is a similar but all girls college. Most events are shared between the colleges and there's considered to be little difference between a Haverford student and a Bryn Mawr student in terms of what they have permission to do. There is also a lesser relationship with Swarthmore college and the University of Pennsylvania. The college also is very proud of its honor code. Students, for example, may take tests home and are trusted not to open their text books while taking them. I would guess the college's pride in their honesty and trustworthiness was a major motivation in their decision to return the letter.

Re:Haverford? (1)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | more than 4 years ago | (#31286336)

Thanks. I had my heart set on going to Haverford when I graduated high school in 1978. I couldn't get in and wound up going to Rice in Houston. That's not a bad second choice but I've always wondered what I missed at Haverford.

Re:Haverford? (1)

OrugTor (1114089) | more than 4 years ago | (#31287750)

Thanks for the info, the honor code explains the offer to return the letter, which I perceive to be the most interesting part of the story.

Re:Haverford? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31286682)

I'm currently a junior at Haverford College, majoring in Computer Science with possible minors in Physics and/or Astronomy (depending on how the rest of my time here works out).

It's definitely a small school -- 1200 kids or so -- but I've found this to be quite beneficial. I'll frequently walk in on CS department meetings (unknowingly; it's just the three professors meeting in an office) and they'll ask for input on what classes they should offer in the next few semesters. I couldn't imagine this individual attention existing at a larger institution.

Haverford's Quaker roots also lend it a sense of strong community and positive social involvement. It is not officially affiliated with the Quakers any longer, but certain traditions still exist: consensus on any group decision, moments of silence before serious discussion, etc. My older brother, a graduate from another Northeastern Liberal Arts College, most notably was surprised at "how nice everyone at your school is."

All in all, a wonderful place. Very happy I go there, and sad to be leaving it soon.

So (3, Insightful)

OrangeMonkey11 (1553753) | more than 4 years ago | (#31285692)

How did Guglielmo Libri the Italian mathematician got away with stealing 30,000 books and manuscript from France and got away with it. How did the official at the French Public Library not notice that one of their employee had made off with 30,000 items that does not belong to him.

Re:So (2, Funny)

abigor (540274) | more than 4 years ago | (#31285746)

He just waited until their backs were turned.

Re:So (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31285954)

He declared war on them, they rubberstamped "we surrender" beneath... Ya know how this works.

Re:So (1)

haruchai (17472) | more than 4 years ago | (#31286416)

Yeah, keep bashing the French because you know, they never overthrew a corrupt goverment that was actually
located on the same side of the world as the freedom fighters.
Oh and they never had to fight against an occupation either.

So, when will the US be giving back the Statue of Liberty?

Re:So (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31287006)

I'd prefer bashing the Italians, but, let's be honest, right now, when you look at their politics and politicians, there ain't so much difference, and we're currently aiming at France, so...

Re:So (4, Funny)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 4 years ago | (#31286310)

I think it's the variant on the old joke.

"For 30 years, the guard at the French Public Library for the evening shift noticed Gugli walking out with a book tucked under his arm. He always make sure to talk to Gugli, as Gugli would look very suspicious, as if he'd done something wrong. The guard always figured there wasn't something quite right about Gugli. So he'd search him, but always find nothing.

"After retiring, the guard wanted this mystery solved, so one day he followed Gugli home. He asked, 'Okay, I know you've been making some kind of mischief all these years, but I've never been able to figure out what. What have you been stealing?'

"Gugli responded, 'Books!'"

Re:So (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#31287934)

Hos did you manage to type such a redundant sentence? How did you manage to get through school without learning about the question mark?

So many questions.

...And René Descartes (0, Redundant)

the darn (624240) | more than 4 years ago | (#31285788)

was a drunken fart, "I drink therefore I am!"

Re:...And René Descartes (2, Funny)

hitmark (640295) | more than 4 years ago | (#31285956)

cheers bruce!

Re:...And René Descartes (0, Redundant)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#31287902)

Cheers Bruce!

Lot about the letter, not about the content. (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 4 years ago | (#31285796)

Goddamnit, it's not like the letter is written in some prehistoric code that will take months to decrypt. 90% of the article is about fates of the paper, less than two short paragraphs on what is written on the paper.

Ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31286034)

If only it was something useful like some math work or something we don't know. But no, it's the precursor to something that already happened. Whoopy-fucking-do.

Barnes & Noble cancels all weekend passes (1)

paiute (550198) | more than 4 years ago | (#31286362)

Somewhere in the literary continuum, Dan Brown was roused from his fitful sleep and his dreams of multicolored zebra-striped kittens by a frantic phone call from his agent.

René Descartes was a drunken fart. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31286426)

René Descartes was a drunken fart.

Dear Marin (4, Funny)

goffster (1104287) | more than 4 years ago | (#31286438)

I still can't get laid at the local bars, maybe I should stop talking about Math.
Perhaps astrology might work better. Do you have any good charts?

Thanx,
Rene

Re:Dear Marin (3, Funny)

oracleofbargth (16602) | more than 4 years ago | (#31287014)

I laugh, therefore I snort coffee out my nose.

My claim to fame... (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 4 years ago | (#31287072)

My son was baptized in the same church Descartes (aka Cartesius) was buried. :)

Re:My claim to fame... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31287948)

O rly? My body contains water molecule from the cum of Jesus. Top that.

Finally! (1)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 4 years ago | (#31287404)

Finally, someone thought, and therefore, it was.

Upload please! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31287784)

Can someone please ensure that high resolution scans are taken and uploaded to wikipedia? after +350 years i doubt they're still copyrighted. if no one comes up for the costs of digitizing them I'll open a paypal (or whatever) account to raise money for it.

meh, philosophy is dead (2, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#31287888)

Historically is was a place for science and mathmatics. Since those disciplines now have there own fields, what the hell good is philosphy?

Before someone responds with the boring and done arguments, my initial goal in college was to become a philosophy professor. It was then I realized it ahs nothing new to offer the world. Even the most basic philosophy question have been answered.

Which came first, chicken or the egg? Evolution has taught is it was the egg.

If yopu walk towards something, but only half the remaining difference, will you ever get there: Quantum mechanics has shown us that, yes, we would get there because there is a smallest distance that can be moved.

These may be interesting papers because they come from a time when philosophy was critical to develop logical, rational, and skeptical questions.

Re:meh, philosophy is dead (2, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31288294)

Before someone responds with the boring and done arguments, my initial goal in college was to become a philosophy professor. It was then I realized it ahs nothing new to offer the world. Even the most basic philosophy question have been answered.

No, they haven't.

Which came first, chicken or the egg? Evolution has taught is it was the egg.

That's not really a "basic philosophy question".

If yopu walk towards something, but only half the remaining difference, will you ever get there: Quantum mechanics has shown us that, yes, we would get there because there is a smallest distance that can be moved.

That's also not a basic philosophy question (and what the result you refer to would tell us is not "yes, if you do that, you will get there", it is "you can't do that"; if there is a quantum distance and you can't move a smaller amount, then you can't halve any distance that is equal to or smaller than that quantum distance -- in fact, you can't have any distance that isn't an even-number multiple of the quantum distance.)

Actual basic philosophical questions are usually not simple fact questions (though sometimes these are posed as illustrations of philosophical issues), but things like "what does it mean to say 'I know X'". (Actually, that's not just a basic philosophical question, its an entire subfield of philosophy known as epistemology.)

And basic philosophical questions mostly aren't questions that can be definitively "answered", because they aren't fact questions; they are questions to which answers can be proposed and the logical implications explored.

Re:meh, philosophy is dead (3, Insightful)

Zedrick (764028) | more than 4 years ago | (#31288446)

"Which came first, chicken or the egg? Evolution has taught is it was the egg."

Eh, what? No. An almost-chicken lays an egg with a mutated embryo (the 100%-chicken). The egg is still an almost-chickenegg, and the first chicken egg is later laid by the chicken.

The birth of Optimus Prime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31288224)

"Hey Mersenne... I heard things are positive when there is one less than what we can accomplish as two minds... so I'm going solo"

dual wield (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31288268)

The letter was blank, though, because the writing was an independent phenomena and it went off on its own.
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