Descartes and Newton

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Descartes and Newton

The old saying "great minds think alike" is not just an old saying. It was at least partially true concerning the minds of Rene Descartes and Isaac Newton. The significant scientific contributions of each man share some common concepts and methodologies, but they generally explored different topics of research. Each scientist based his beliefs on different mind sets.

The similarities between Newton and Descartes are found deep in the foundations of their beliefs and of their discourse and examinations, but they were achieved in different ways. Newton's early scientific discussions took place at the Royal Society of London, where he discussed important thoughts and discoveries with his contemporaries. Descartes on the other hand developed his ideas by holding discussions with himself, because he constantly subjected his ideas and thoughts to brutal tests of rationality and doubt. These men shared one core idea that emphasized the shift in academic values. They both felt that science should not be affected by faith and theology.

Descartes based his entire system of philosophy on the concept of truism: if it can be clearly and distinctly thought, it is true. This train of thought lessened his trust in experiment and scientific observation. Descartes thought that the greatest product a scientist can create was an irrefutable hypothesis.

Newton based his life's work in the study of the tangible examinations. He combined his fields of physics and astronomy when he worked to disprove Descartes' method of experimentation. Newton believed devoutly that the only form of truth and solid proof in the world was found in experiment and mathematics. He rejected the works of Aristotle, which had been renowned by his predecessors, and set out to formulate three laws of motion. His ways of working revolved around the reality of the world, if it couldn't be seen, touched, described, or calculated, it could not exist.

The roots of both of these...
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