René Descartes


(1596 – 1650) Rene Descartes was a French philosopher, mathematician and scientist. Descartes founded analytic geometry. He was also dubbed the “Founder of Modern Philosophy" and the "Father of Modern Mathematics." In addition, Descartes was the first to write an extended essay on physiological psychology, and published his major philosophical work, "A Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy, in 1641. His contributions in all of his major categories are known to have formed the basis to the theories of many famous mathematicians and scientists including Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz. Throughout his life, his philosophy was that all theories, ideas and hypothesis should be doubted, unless there is something solid to prove it such as an observation. Descartes also managed to create the Cartesian Coordinate System and publish many books on his experimental findings and theories. This man is also famous for following the assertion, "I think therefore I am", which was the basis of his philosophical thinking.
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Descartes was born on March 31,1596 in La Haye, France, into a well-to-do family. His mother died of Tuberculosis shorty after his birth. He livd ith his father, but he spent much of his time without him due to the intensity of his father's job. His father was a judge in the High Court of Brittany. He soon remarried, and Descartes was brought up by his grandmother. At a young age, Descartes studied classical literature, history, rhetoric, and natural philosophy. his father of refererred to himas "My Little Philosopher". When he was 8, he was sent to a Jesuit school in La Fleche. Because of his health, He was allowed to stay in bed in the morning, meditating and reading while the other students went to class. He kept the habit of reading in the morning his whole life. From 1612 to 1616 Descartes studied law at the University of Poiters. Then he decided to see the World. He went to Paris and began hanging out with a group of young rich man who spent the majority of their time gambling. Descartes often won by working out his chances mathematically. Descartes later enrolled in the Protestant Dutch army of Maurice. He then spent several years as a soldier and met Isaac Beeckman, who brought up his interest in mathematics. During all his traveling, Descartes decided to settle down. He gave much thought to choosing a country suited to his nature and later chose Holland. Soon after he settled in Holland, Descartes began to work on his first major piece on physics, Le Monde, ou Traité de la Lumière. In 1644, Descartes published Meditations, which was a major hit in France.
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In 1649 Queen Christina of Sweden persuaded Descartes to go to Stockholm. However the Queen wanted to have Descartes at her palace at 5 a.m., which broke his lifetime habit of waking up at 11 o'clock. After only a few months in the cold northern climate, walking to the palace at 5 o'clock every morning, he died of pneumonia. Descartes was one of the key thinkers of the **Scientific Revolution** in the Western World, which he is best known for today. His role in this revolution lied in his new belief, which revolved around the definition between what is true or should be doubted. He believed that unless something could be proven as a fact, it could not be assumed true, regardless of emotional reasons or faith. His questioning of the church and the world was different and interesting, especially when being presented during a time when religion played a large role in the lives of the people. When describing this approach to life he states, “It is only prudent never to place complete confidence in that by which we have even once been deceived.” In my opinion this is logical, because if something has not been constant over a period of time, it should be questioned.

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