Thursday, June 10, 2010

Long overdue? Descartes' letter found in college library

Here's an interesting bit of news I just read from the Associated Press. A letter by 17th century philosopher Rene Descartes was recently discovered in the library of Haverford College in Pennsylvania. Evidently it had been in the collection, unnoticed, for over a century. The letter was one of thousands stolen from French libraries in the 1800s. Haverford officials returned the letter to Paris yesterday, with great fanfare.

What treasure will you find in your college library? (Nothing larcenous, one hopes).

For philosophy buffs, I now share my favorite Cartesian joke: Rene Descartes was in a restaurant. The waitress asked him if he would like coffee. He said, "Yes, please." She asked if he would like sugar in his coffee. He said, "Yes, thank you." (This is in the English translation, naturally). Then she asked him if he would like cream. Descartes said, "No, I think not"--and promptly vanished.

(Do you think that was bad? My philosophy professor had a joke I've since forgotten, but the punchline was something about putting Descartes before dey horse).

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