Descartes was the French philosopher who thought of the saying “I think, therefore I am”. This simple slogan by a Frenchmen has been ridiculed in our modern age but not everything the French did was bad (yes I am being serious). It actually began the age of reason from which ideas of human individualism emerged.
He was one of the first people to tell people that if you do not understand an idea of another person then you have no right to believe it. He wasn’t saying don’t think but rather to rely on your own internal comprehension as the only comprehension because your thinking is the only thinking that defines your conscious existence. I THINK, THEREFORE I AM
The only understanding of an idea you need is your own and no one else’s. It does not matter how smart or dumb you are because it is your internal comprehension that counts. This new way of thinking was already around with people like Galileo who actually believed that simple observation was better than listening to what other people. He allowed himself to be the only decider of what he thought was true which allowed him to throw off the old intellectual order in favor of a new one. Descartes helped to introduce that way of thinking to everyone which helped to bring about the Age of Reason.
Reason was, as its simple meaning implies, the idea that any intellectual concept a person had they had because of their own reasons for them. This allowed people to think independently of another and enabled the peasants to question the elite. They were no longer going to accept what they were told if they themselves did not understand it which allowed them to boldly question them.
The age of freedom and equality emerged and it seemed that the good guys in history won but no one ever bothered to ask what happen to those who opposed this new way of thinking. These elites believed that they were given the right to decide how other people should live simply because they crowned themselves so. The opposition did not go away but found new generations of elites that believed they were put on earth to decide how others should live.
This is why we have institutions filled with people who think of foods we shouldn’t eat such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest. They tell us what we should be eating because they are scientist and scientist knows better. This may give them an unquestionable status to the average person but remember what Descartes said “I think, therefore I am”.
Don’t let your non-scientist status intimidate you from using your own noggin. It may be inferior to theirs (unlikely) but it is your own internal comprehension that counts and not someone else’s. There is a saying going around that a person is their own property and if that is true then their own conscious comprehension is theirs as well. Right or wrong, it is a part of your person and without your internal comprehension of an idea then you have no business believing it.