The author wishes to provide a prehistory of Cartesius’ principle “cogito, ergo sum” or “ego sum, ego existo”. He poses the question of why it did not occur to any of the ancient sceptics that the self is indubitable, when we find that thought occuring three times in Augustine. Augustine‘s certainty actually concerns the psycho-physical person, not consciousness itself as in Cartesius. Nevertheless, the author argues, the certainty of the self was partly the result of the treatment of the self in religious reflection. This enabled the self to gain its own space outside the action of things. The intense inner life of the Christian was linked to the wordly art of the troubadour lyric, to poetry, to the epic in Ariosto and Torquato Tasso etc. The calling into question of the reliability of sensory qualities in the first half of the seventeenth century contributed to the conception of a “closed consciousness”. A second theme of the analysis sets up a confrontation between the grounding of knowledge in ancient times in that which is known, and the modern grounding of knowledge in a knowing consciousness. Hegel renewed the ancient model of knowledge, but he nevertheless considered the modern viewpoint of consciousness as part of the journey to “absolute knowledge”.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.