Cogito ergo sum

During our Forecasting Futures lecture we were introduced to the philosophical concept of Cartesian Dualism. Before digging deeper in the meaning of the phrase and its philosophical origins, we can get a general idea by reflecting on the term “dualism”: it suggest that there are two parts, elements or aspects which are opposed or contrasting. In Philosophy it refers to the belief that there are two distinct realities: material (physical) and immaterial (spiritual). In Philosophy of mind, the theory of dualism suggests mind and body are two separate entities. Ancient Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle disputed upon the nature of soul and body and whether they are bound or not.

Later, in the 17th century, René Descartes (Latinized: Renatus Cartesius) particularly focused on the concept of dualism in his philosophical studies, forming the “Cartesian Dualism” theory, also called “Substance Dualism”. He believed there are “two kinds of substance: matter, of which the essential property is that it is spatially extended; and mind, of which the essential property is that it thinks” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy(2011), Dualism). From his theory follows the famous quote “cogito ergo sum” (I think, therefore I am).

Our tutor then asked us two research the following two words: ontology and epistemology. These are two key theories in metaphysics, the branch of philosophy dealing with principles of things. These can be very abstract concepts such as being, knowing, identity, time and space. Ontology covers the nature of being whereas epistemology is concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge and aims to distinguish between justified belief and opinion (Oxford online dictionary, Definition of Epistemology). It therefore also poses challenging questions such as “How much do we or can we know?”


Calef, S. (nd) Dualism and mind. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (available at:

Corazzon, R. (2015) Ontology: Its Role in Modern Philosophy. (available at:

Mastin, L. (2008) Dualism. the Basics of Philosophy (available at:

Robinson, H. (2011) Dualism. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (available at:

Truncellito, D.A. (nd) Epistemology . Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (available at:

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