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The most important figure in Neoplatonism was Plotinus (c. 205-270), who studied philosophy in Alexandria but later settled in Rome. It is interesting to note that he came froethereum classic highest price inrm Alexandria, the city that had been the central meeting point for Greek philosophy and Oriental mysticism for several centuries. Plotinus brought with him to Rome a doctrine of salvation that was to compete seriously with Christianity when its time came. However, Neoplatonism also became a strong influence in mainstream Christian theology as well.

"Of course I'm coming. But there is another thing. Did you remember that it's the day Hilde's father gets back from Lebanon?"solana beach school district zimbra"No, I didn't, actually."

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"It can't possibly be pure coincidence that he lets you arrange a philosophical garden party the same day as he gets home to Bjerkely.""I didn't think about it, as I said.""I'm sure he did. But all right, we'll talk about that later. Can you come to the major's cabin this morning?""I'm supposed to weed the flower beds.""Let's say two o'clock, then. Can you make that?"

"I'll be there."Alberto Knox was sitting on the step again when Sophie arrived."When we dream, we feel we are experiencing reality. What separates our waking feelings from our dream feelings?

" 'When I consider this carefully, I find not a single property which with certainty separates the waking state from the dream,' writes Descartes. And he goes on: 'How can you be certain that your whole life is not a dream?' ""Jeppe thought he had only been dreaming when he had slept in the Baron's bed.""And when he was lying in the Baron's bed, he thought his life as a poor peasant was only a dream. So in the same way, Descartes ends up doubting absolutely everything. Many philosophers before him had reached the end of the road at that very point.""So they didn't get very far."

"But Descartes tried to work forward from this zero point. He doubted everything, and that was the only thing he was certain of. But now something struck him: one thing had to be true, and that was that he doubted. When he doubted, he had to be thinking, and because he was thinking, it had to be certain that he was a thinking being. Or, as he himself expressed it: Cogito, ergo sum.""Which means?"

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"I think, therefore I am.""I'm not surprised he realized that.""Fair enough. But notice the intuitive certainty with which he suddenly perceives himself as a thinking being. Perhaps you now recall what Plato said, that what we grasp with our reason is more real than what we grasp with our senses. That's the way it was for Descartes. He perceived not only that he was a thinking /, he realized at the same time that this thinking / was more real than the material world which we perceive with our senses. And he went on. He was by no means through with his philosophical quest.""What came next?"

"Descartes now asked himself if there was anything more he could perceive with the same intuitive certainty.He came to the conclusion that in his mind he had a clear and distinct idea of a perfect entity. This was an idea he had always had, and it was thus self-evident to Descartes that such an idea could not possibly have come from himself. The idea of a perfect entity cannot have originated from one who was himself imperfect, he claimed. Therefore the idea of a perfect entity must have originated from that perfect entity itself, or in other words, from God. That God exists was therefore just as self-evident for Descartes as that a thinking being must exist.""Now he was jumping to a conclusion. He was more cautious to begin with.""You're right. Many people have called that his weak spot. But you say 'conclusion.' Actually it was not a question of proof. Descartes only meant that we all possess the idea of a perfect entity, and that inherent in that idea is the fact that this perfect entity must exist. Because a perfect entity wouldn't be perfect if it didn't exist. Neither would we possess the idea of a perfect entity if there were no perfect entity. For we are imperfect, so the idea of perfection cannot come from us. According to Descartes, the idea of God is innate, it is stamped on us from birth 'like the artisan's mark stamped on his product.' "

"Yes, but just because I possess the idea of a crocophant doesn't mean that the crocophant exists.""Descartes would have said that it is not inherent in the concept of a crocophant that it exists. On the other hand, it is inherent in the concept of a perfect entity that such an entity exists. According to Descartes, this is just as certain as it is inherent in the idea of a circle that all points of the circle are equidistant from the center. You cannot have a circle that does not conform to this law. Nor can you have a perfect entity that lacks its most important property, namely, existence."

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"That's an odd way of thinking.""It is a decidedly rationalistic way of thinking. Descartes believed like Socrates and Plato that there is a connection between reason and being. The more self-evident a thing is to one's reason, the more certain it is that it exists."

"So far he has gotten to the fact that he is a thinking person and that there exists a perfect entity.""Yes, and with this as his point of departure, he proceeds. In the question of all the ideas we have about outer reality--for example, the sun and the moon--there is the possibility that they are fantasies. But outer reality also has certain characteristics that we can perceive with our reason. These are the mathematical properties, or, in other words, the kinds of things that are measurable, such as length, breadth, and depth. Such 'quantitative' properties are just as clear and distinct to my reason as the fact that I am a thinking being. 'Qualitative' properties such as color, smell, and taste, on the other hand, are linked to our sense perception and as such do not describe outer reality.""So nature is not a dream after all.""No, and on that point Descartes once again draws upon our idea of the perfect entity. When our reason recognizes something clearly and distinctly--as is the case for the mathematical properties of outer reality--it must necessarily be so. Because a perfect God would not deceive us. Descartes claims 'God's guarantee' that whatever we perceive with our reason also corresponds to reality.""Okay, so now he's found out he's a thinking being, God exists, and there is an outer reality.""Ah, but the outer reality is essentially different from the reality of thought. Descartes now maintains that there are two different forms of reality--or two 'substances.' One substance is thought, or the 'mind,' the other is extension, or matter. The mind is purely conscious, it takes up no room in space and can therefore not be subdivided into smaller parts. Matter, however, is purely extension, it takes up room in space and can therefore always be subdivided into smaller and smaller parts-- but it has no consciousness. Descartes maintained that both substances originate from God, because only God himself exists independently of anything else. But al-though both thought and extension come from God, the two substances have no contact with each other. Thought is quite independent of matter, and conversely, the material processes are quite independent of thought."

"So he divided God's creation into two.""Precisely. We say that Descartes is a dualist, which means that he effects a sharp division between the reality of thought and extended reality. For example, only man has a mind. Animals belong completely to extended reality. Their living and moving are accomplished me-chanically. Descartes considered an animal to be a kind of complicated automaton. As regards extended reality, he takes a thoroughly mechanistic view--exactly like the materialists."

"I doubt very much that Hermes is a machine or an automaton. Descartes couldn't have liked animals very much. And what about us? Are we automatons as well?""We are and we aren't. Descartes came to the conclusion that man is a dual creature that both thinks and takes up room in space. Man has thus both a mind and an extended body. St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas had already said something similar, namely, that man had a body like the animals and a soul like the angels. According to Descartes, the human body is a perfect machine. But man also has a mind which can operate quite independently of the body. The bodily processes do not have the same freedom, they obey their own laws. But what we think with our reason does not happen in the body--it happens in the mind, which is completely independent of extended reality. I should add, by the way, that Descartes did not reject the possibility that animals could think. But if they have that faculty, the same dualism between thought and extension must also apply to them."

"We have talked about this before. If I decide to run after a bus, the whole 'automaton' goes into action. And if I don't catch the bus, I start to cry.""Even Descartes could not deny that there is a constant interaction between mind and body. As long as the mind is in the body, he believed, it is linked to the brain through a special brain organ which he called the pineal gland, where a constant interaction takes place between 'spirit' and 'matter.' Therefore the mind can constantly be affected by feelings and passions that are related to bodily needs. But the mind can also detach itself from such 'base' impulses and operate independently of the body. The aim is to get reason to assume command. Because even if I have the worst pain in my stomach, the sum of the angles in a triangle will still be 180 de-grees. Thus humans have the capacity to rise above bodily needs and behave rationally. In this sense the mind is superior to the body. Our legs can age and become weak, the back can become bowed and our teeth can fall out--but two and two will go on being four as long as there is reason left in us. Reason doesn't become bowed and weak. It is the body that ages. For Descartes, the mind is essentially thought. Baser passions and feelings such as desire and hate are more closely linked to our bodily functions--and therefore to extended reality."

"I can't get over the fact that Descartes compared the human body to a machine or an automaton.""The comparison was based on the fact that people in his time were deeply fascinated by machines and the workings of clocks, which appeared to have the ability to function of their own accord. The word 'automaton' means precisely that--something that moves of its own accord. It was obviously only an illusion that they moved of their own accord. An astronomical clock, for instance, is both constructed and wound up by human hands. Descartes made a point of the fact that ingenious inventions of that kind were actually assembled very simply from a relatively small number of parts compared with the vast number of bones, muscles, nerves, veins, and arteries that the human and the animal body consists of. Why should God not be able to make an animal or a human body based on mechanical laws?""Nowadays there is a lot of talk about 'artificial intelligence.' ""Yes, that is the automaton of our time. We have created machines that can sometimes deceive us into believing that they are intelligent. Machines like these would have terrified Descartes out of his wits. He might have begun to doubt whether human reason really was as free and independent as he had supposed. And there are philosophers who believe that man's spiritual life is no more free than the bodily processes. The human soul is naturally infinitely more complex than any data program, but some people think that in principle we are just as unfree as these data programs. But look, Sophie--I'll show you something."

Alberto pointed to a large writing table at the other end of the room. On it stood a small computer. He went over to it. Sophie followed him.Alberto switched the computer on and soon the screen showed C: at the top. He wrote "Laila," explaining that this was an advanced conversation program.

A text soon appeared at the top of the screen:"Hi, my name is Laila. Are you sitting comfortably?"

Sophie entered three letters:"Yes," she wrote although she had not yet sat down. Alberto brought up a chair for her.

"What is your name?" appeared on the screen."Sophie Amundsen," wrote Sophie, and the computer answered:"3 Clover Close. Nice to meet you, Sophie. Are you looking forward to your fifteenth birthday?"Sophie was startled. Alberto laid a hand on her shoulder and said: "I have only given her your name, your address, and your date of birth. It's like when you are going to be introduced to a new friend. It's nice to know a little about them beforehand."

"Not bad," wrote Sophie."Oh dear, I hope you are not feeling bad, Sophie. You must try to talk in whole sentences."

"Thank you, I'm perfectly well. Can I ask you something?""I am glad you are well. Go ahead and ask me something."

"How old are you?" Sophie wrote."I was constructed in Atlanta on August 8, 1988, but I was translated into Norwegian at the Norwegian Polytechnic on March 28, 1990."

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Perspectives of a 2x entrepreneur turned VC at @UpfrontVC#

Mark Suster

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2x entrepreneur. Sold both companies (last to salesforce.com). Turned VC looking to invest in passionate entrepreneurs 〞 I*m on Twitter at @msuster

Both Sides of the Table

Perspectives of a 2x entrepreneur turned VC at @UpfrontVC, the largest and most active early-stage fund in Southern California. Snapchat: msuster

Mark Suster

Written by

2x entrepreneur. Sold both companies (last to salesforce.com). Turned VC looking to invest in passionate entrepreneurs 〞 I*m on Twitter at @msuster

Both Sides of the Table

Perspectives of a 2x entrepreneur turned VC at @UpfrontVC, the largest and most active early-stage fund in Southern California. Snapchat: msuster