On Thursday, April 8, 2004, at 08:02 PM, Christophe Grandsire wrote:

> En réponse à Ray Brown :
>>> Actually, you're wrong here.
>> It's not clear from your response what is wrong.
> That you treat the expression as parataxis. Why should all juxtapositions
> be parataxis?

They are not, and I have never said that they are.

It may be that French usage is different, but in English usage parataxis
is (I quote):
"the arrangement of clauses or propositions without connectives" [Chambers
English Dictionary]

"Traditionally, the coordination of clauses (and, rarely, of phrases)
without the use of overt conjunctions"
[R. L. Trask, A Dictionary of Grammatical Terms in Linguistics]

'cogito' and 'sum' are both individual clauses;
they are arranged without connectives or overt conjunctions;
therefore, we have parataxis.

Also in English usage, 'juxtaposition' simply denotes "placing together";
we can say 'the' is juxtaposed with 'cat' in the phrase "the cat". Yes,
'cogito' is juxtaposed with 'sum' - but that tells us nothing. I haven't
been talking about juxtaposition. After all, in 'cogito, ergo sum', 'ergo'
  is juxtaposed with 'sum' but that doesn't tell us much.

> Descartes just refused to put a connector between the verbs in order to
> point out at their deep identity, that's all. If you read his words
> around the cogito, he makes it clear.

Yes, but that doesn't have any bearing upon whether 'cogito, sum' is
parataxis or not. Descartes, for whatever reason, choose to put the two
verbs together (and as Latin verbs are full clauses in themselves, two
clauses together) without any connective; we have parataxis according to
the normal English use of the word.

What D meant by using parataxis is another matter. I may have been misled
by looking at Plautine use of parataxis which, admittedly, is not likely
to be relevant to D, and by not putting his 'cogito, sum' into context.
Indeed, I accept your criticisms regarding the latter.

>> "cogito sum" is parataxis & parataxis has been attested in Latin for 3000
>> years.
> It's *not* parataxis. Parataxis is a specific device, subset of
> juxtaposition. Descartes was making a simple juxtaposition here.

But a simple juxtaposition of _clauses_ is parataxis. D may well have been
using it in a novel way - that is another matter (and, indeed, why I chose
the subject line _Cartesian_ parataxis).

> Don't forget he was writing at a time when even mathematical formulae
> were still written in full words. The mathematical notation didn't exist
> yet. He just did as good as he could with the way things were in his time
> :)

I don't dispute that.

>> So he maybe should've used a different construction or different wording.
> He found a simple way: the cogito is to take in context, i.e. with all
> the text around it. When you read it all, its meaning becomes clear
> enough, *if you don't concentrate purely on the catch-phrase*. It's only
> meant as a simple shortcut to sum up his demonstration up to this point.

A fair point.

>>  If the
>> juxtaposition of the two verbs is meant to denote equivalence then it
>> should mean  my thinking = my being _and_ my being = my thinking.
> Indeed. And that's what he writes :)) .

Now you confuse me. In an earlier mail you said:
'Indeed, if you talk about "thinking" and "existing", you are right.
Descartes never said they were the same thing. What he said is that "*my*
thinking" and "*my* existing" are the same thing.'

You seemed to have been emphasizing the 'ego' there.

But if just plain 'my thinking' & 'my being' is one and the same thing,
then if an accident should occur or some disease damaged my brain and
prevented me from thinking, would I then cease to exist? I can appreciate
the argument that my 'ego' might cease to exist, but that Ray Brown ceases
to exist is another matter.

>> Thank you - that's precisely my point about the identity of 'cogito' and
>> 'sum' being absurd. 'cogit-' and 'su- are not identical.
> But Descartes never talked about "cogit-" and "su-". He didn't write
> "cogitare, esse". He wrote "cogit*o*, su*m*". Why separate the root from
> its ending? It's the whole that is meaningful here.

Too much Classical Latin, I guess. The endings are never emphasized as
your asterisks suggest. When no separate subject is expressed, then by the
time one's got to the verb the subject morpheme is largely redundant. If
the subject is important, then its expressed.

I have not separated root from ending. The only forms without endings are
the singular imperatives: 'cogita' and 'es'. But omitting the endings
doesn't help. The verbs cannot - except as imperatives - be used without
endings.  I agree the whole is meaningful. But if 'cogit-' and 'su-' re
not identical, then can 'cogito' and 'sum' really be identical? If they
are, does that apply only with 1st singular ending? Or do we have identity
with 'cogitas' and 'es', and with 'cogitat' and 'est'?

>> But when all's said and done, I can see how your clarification of what
>> Descartes really mean (which I appreciate) really differs from my
>> conclusion:
>> "Gosh, I'm thinking! Well, if I'm thinking then I must have an existence"
>> .
>> ========================================================================
>> ==
> Do you mean "can" or "can't" here? :)


I still don't really see how it differs from your interpretation. As far
as I can see we're talking at cross purposes and drawing the same or a
very similar conclusion.

I'd rather get back to conlanging.

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"A mind which thinks at its own expense will always
interfere with language."         J.G. Hamann, 1760