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Knowledge and Understanding Seminar
Speaker: Anil Gomes (Oxford)
Title: Lichtenberg's Puzzle
"Sometime in 1793 or 1794, the German philosopher, physicist, and aphorist George Christoph Lichtenberg writes in his notebook: ‘One should say it is thinking, just as one says, it is lightning. To say cogito is already too much as soon as one translates it as I am thinking. To assume the I, to postulate it, is a practical requirement’ (my translation). Lichtenberg’s claim was influential on a range of philosophers, including Ernst Mach, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer and Wittgenstein. But – I’ll suggest – the problem which he is pressing has been misunderstood. I’ll try and set out the nature of the puzzle and explain why it has force. It will raise a set of questions about the kind of agency involved in conscious thought."