Final piece on Sentire ergo sum…(3)

“Much sound and fury signifying nothing”? ( Sotto voce: How is it that the Bard has said something in the 16th Century which is directly applicable to us and our situation today?) Much has been said and written in the last few posts on whether Man is a Thinking being or a Feeling being. Views and expressions on both side of the table.  Strong arguments. Differing perspectives. And the jury is still out!

A friend had pointed out that in Descartes’ “Cogito ergo sum” is implied the self awareness of man. I think. I am. Both propositions cannot survive without intervening self awareness. And feelings are very much a part of this self awareness. So Thinking is a larger construct and Feeling is a subset. So Cogito implicitly involves Sentire. Hence my friend concludes Descartes is right when he proclaims Cogito ergo sum. ( and correspondingly Vikas is wrong.)

Since I am disagreeing with intellectuals certainly superior to me (Descartes in past; Victor on WP; other friends in today’s times) let me first define “Sentire” : what I mean by feelings and emotions

  • firstly I define “feeling” as perceiving; experiencing: judging: being aware: being touched by something
  • to me the feeling person will try; test; essay; endeavor and even attempt something through which s/he understands/experiences/interacts with the world reality outside and therefrom forms own inner reality
  • not to forget the flip side of the coin: feeling also can encompass blame; condemning; hating; rejecting; standing against
  • and through all these processes : feeling is about investigation and responding

So yes I am broad basing the concept of Sentire : feeling is not just an emotional reaction but rather a higher concept.  So you will see that such emotional people should be treasured. They love deeply and think deeply about life. They are loyal honest and true. Simplest things sometimes mean the most to them. Their purity makes them who they are. They don’t need to change or harden. They are. That’s it.

All great things are achieved through such dedicated focus. Complete trust and unwavering belief is their core. They are in love with what they sense and feel: and they cannot think of any other reality. They transcend the dry intellectual logical stances. They give themselves completely. And in a way they feel complete in themselves as the feelings are so intense and drive them to what they feel is the “true north”.

The Noble laureate Yiddish author Issac Bashevis Singer in another context says it so well :  ” The very essence of literature is the war between emotion and intellect, between life and death. When literature becomes too intellectual – when it begins to ignore the passions, the emotions – it becomes sterile, silly, and actually without substance.”  And as true blooded experience hungry souls I am sure none of us want to be sterile, silly, and without substance. I would any day let my feelings and emotions take over as the guide and compass of my life.

To conclude : that is my stance. But life is not so simple that only one one “truth” prevails. Multiple are the ways to the Allah. I thank you for allowing me to express mine. And indulging me so far.   I respect your views and truths especially if they are different from mine.  I had read somewhere : a great truth is one whose opposite is also a great truth. Wishing you the very best on your path: as you wish me safe travels on mine.

Your fellow traveler: vikas