Inversion of "Cogito ergo sum"?
August 27, 2014 11:22 PM   Subscribe

I'm reaching for a phrase for a short science fiction piece I'm working on. I'd like to know what a Classical-Latin-speaking character would say if they wanted to articulate a particular concept analogous to "I think therefore I am", but expressing instead a monstrous moral conclusion they've reached along the lines of I think therefore none may be / shall be.

Automatic translations give me several results depending on which synonyms I throw at them, but I don't trust that any of these translations connote the same ideas about 'thinking' and 'being' that "cogito ergo sum" do, nor can I tell if they have the same Classical Latin (and philosophical) overtones.

Ideally the phrase would follow the same elegant, punchy form: "Cogito ergo..."

Happy to provide more context if necessary. Thanks in advance!
posted by churl to Writing & Language (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
... nihil erit.

There will be plenty of real Latin scholars along presently, but that's my take on "nothing shall be" in the future tense, third conjugation. Mr. Hensley's 7th period would be proud.
posted by Kakkerlak at 11:50 PM on August 27 [1 favorite]

You've dealt with the question of why a classical Latin speaker would reference Descartes, right?
posted by yarntheory at 4:40 AM on August 28 [5 favorites]

Cogito ergo Nihil - I think therefore nothing(ness)

Cogito ergo non - I think therefore not

Cogito ergo nemo - I think therefore noone
posted by Flood at 4:47 AM on August 28 [1 favorite]

> You've dealt with the question of why a classical Latin speaker would reference Descartes, right?

Whoops I might have asked the question poorly. The character converses in modern English; he's just using Latin to turn a pithy phrase here. Or is there something else I'm missing?

> ...that's my take on "nothing shall be" in the future tense, third conjugation

Yeah future tense is important, as he is alluding to an action he is taking which will end life in the near future.
posted by churl at 8:08 AM on August 28

Cogito ergo deus sum?

When you say "I think therefore none may (or shall) be", do you mean "I think, therefore I am the only real entity and my thoughts create all other beings or entities in the universe"? If so, then you believe yourself to be god. Or are you looking for a more 'destructive' meaning.

Cogito ergo nemo erit. I think, therefore noone shall be?
Cogito ergo quemque morit. I think, therefore all die? (not future)

(Former puer genius - but all this should be checked)
posted by guy72277 at 8:19 AM on August 28 [1 favorite]

Depending on how the character is expressing causation and intentionality, you might want to use a purpose clause. These are more purposeful than using ergo as a conjunction to introduce consequences.

Cogito ut nihil sit. I think so that nothing(ness) might be.

Cogito ut nullus sit. I think so that none might be. (You could use nemo instead of nullus, but it is a short form of ne homo (no man), so I would use nemo to refer only to people.

Cogito ne quisquam sit. I think lest anything might be.
posted by stopgap at 11:41 AM on August 28 [1 favorite]

> Or are you looking for a more 'destructive' meaning.

Yeah the destructive meaning, not the solipsistic one. In essence, the character is taking preeeeetty broad poetic license with the original phrase to express something akin to "the inherent/unavoidable philosophical conclusion here is that I make this decision to end all life."
posted by churl at 11:56 AM on August 28

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