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It is not enough for a person to be surrounded by people who think like him in order to feel complete. One has to be surrounded also by people who feel like him...

When sameness of feeling is missing, thinking may serve as a means for temporary togetherness. A person may enjoy only up to a certain degree being in the company of people who are only connected by the fact that they think the same way. This enjoyment is nothing but a rational or even intellectual feeling, not an emotional one. On the other hand, it is not enough for a person to be surrounded by people who feel the same way he feels, but do not think the same way he does. Even here, if he feels a kind of enjoyable togetherness it will be only temporary – with no continuity. The combination of thinking and feeling can take place with regards to any subject and in any circumstances. It is so in matters of conflicts, love, faith, as well as in national matters. It is the same also in music. Chamber music is not enjoyable if the players do not feel the same way. They may think the same thoughts about the music they play, but as long as they do not join in the same feeling, it will remain mere playing, but not music. A good conductor is the one who successfully transmits his thoughts and feelings to, and shares them with the orchestra players and chorus singers. Successful stage performances are only those where the players, singers, and actors have succeeded in causing the audience to feel like them. They have to feel the audience in order for the audience to feel them. Only then they are able to carry away the audience. Only then the enjoyment of both – the performers and the audience - is full. The emotional element in a person is important, as is the intellectual element. When one of them is missing – there is no wholeness, no completeness, only impairment, and like any impairment it may be painful. Descartes stated in 1637: “Je pense donc je suis” (I think, hence I am)[1] and later, in 1644 he restated it in Latin: “Cogito ergo sum” (I think, therefore I am).[2] Damasio was of the opinion that Descartes had erred because he ignored human feeling and emotions. Hence he added the feeling and stated: “I think and feel – therefore I am”.[3]

 In my opinion, Descartes thought of the individual, the lonely person, while Damasio referred to the social person. However, to both of them I would add: a complete person is the one who thinks and feels like the others around him. This is the way to reach the stage of completeness. For completeness there is a need for complementing – a person when he is by himself may think he is complete, but he can't be complete all by himself. He needs the other people.

Nevertheless, it does not necessarily follow that when anybody thinks and feels like others it means that he is. The presence of a person among people who think and feel like him is not enough for him to be. The being demands another element: giving. Completeness and wholeness cannot be achieved when a person merely enjoys the company of people who think and feel like him. It can be achieved only when he also gives and contributes from himself to others. Therefore, I would add to Descartes and Damasio, and say: “Cogito, sentio, do – ergo sum”. I think, feel and give – hence I am; therefore there is a meaning to my existence.


[1] R. Descartes (1644), 'Principia philosophiae' (Principles of Philosophy), (trans. V.R. and R.P. Miller), 1983, Reidel, Dortrecht, part I.


[2] R. Descartes (1644), 'Principia philosophiae' (Principles of Philosophy), (trans. V.R. and R.P. Miller), 1983, Reidel, Dortrecht, part I.


[3] A.R. Damasio (1994), 'Descartes' Error – Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain'. G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York, NY, part XI.


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David A. Frenkel

David A. Frenkel was born in Tel Aviv, 1940, and lives in Beer-Sheva. He is emeritus professor at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, where he was the head of the Law Area at the Departme...

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