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This lino cut print of Decartes Demon with a brain in a vat in green and black is 8 inches by 9 inches (20.3 cm by 22.9 cm) on Japanese kozo (or mulberry) paper. It is one of a first edition of 12.

The 2nd in my 'Imaginary Friends of Science' series - after Maxwell's Demon - is Descartes' Demon. Despite (or because) of his rationalism, René Descartes hypothesised the existence of an evil daemon, a personification who is "as clever and deceitful as he is powerful, who has directed his entire effort to misleading me." The evil d(a)emon presents a complete illusion of an external world, including other people, or even his own body, when perhaps they didn't in fact exist. This is a sort of thought experiment to test the very idea of empiricism.

The modern version of this is the "brain in vat" (i.e. how do we know we aren't just brains in vats of biochemicals being stimulated to simulate what we sense). Descartes' Demon moves with the times, except perhaps when it comes to fashion. In fact, he bares an uncanny ressemblance to René Descartes himself, except for the horns, and the brain in a vat, of course.

This November the Mad Scientists of Etsy are celebrating Descartes! This strikes me as the quitessential Mad Scientist offering, no?

Descartes wasn't the only one with imaginary friends. You can find Maxwell's Demon here:
Ele Willoughby

Descartes Demon Linocut - Imaginary Friends of Science Collection - René Descartes Daemon with Brain in Vat Philosophy History Science Print

$30.00 USD
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  • Handmade item
  • Materials: linoleum, carving tools, brayer, baren, ink, paper, japanese kozo paper
  • Feedback: 246 reviews
  • Ships worldwide from Toronto, Canada