Much of the intellectual history of psychology has involved the attempt to come to grips with the problem of mind and body and how they interact. While the philosophical distinction between mind and body can be traced back to the Greeks, it is due to the work of René Descartes. When Descartes' friend, Marin Mersenne, wrote to him of Galileo's fate at the hands of the Inquisition, Descartes immediately suppressed his own treatise. As a result, the world's first extended essay on physiological psychology was published only well after its author's death. Descarte was the first to talk about mind/body interactions, and had a great influence in later psychologists and thinkers. He proposed that not only body can influence mind, but that mind could also affect body. René Descartes was a famous mathematician born in Touraine, France on March 31, 1596. Descartes was said to be the father of modern philosophy for his works in the fields of math, science and philosophy. At the age of 8 he attended the Royal College at La Flèche where he was educated as a Jesuit scholar. The king established this school, which was a Jesuit college that was for the young nobility. At this point he had a liking towards mathematics. While in school his health was poor and he was granted permission to remain in bed until 11am, which was a routine he maintained until his death. Later, he attended and got a degree in Law at the University of Poitiers. Two years later Descartes joined the Prince of Orange Army in Holland. There he met a scientist named Isaac Beekman, who told Descartes of new developments in mathematics. After this, he traveled around Europe and joined the Duke of Bavaria's army. "Living on the income of lands he
inherited, Descartes served without pay and also saw very little action", although he fought in the battle of Prague which was one of the major battles of the Thirty Years War. (Encyclopedia of World History, 1998). Although Descartes traveled a lot, he still sought out to find and make friends with mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers and his most important friendship was with Isaac Beeckman. He recommended Descartes to begin scientific writings on math and music. . Then in 1629 he moved to Holland and lived primarily in Amsterdam for the next two decades. Here in Holland is where he made came up with the foundation of analytic geometry, which Galileo also helped to create. This work was one of his most significant works, although he may have used information from previous mathematicians, however, he always claimed that his works were original and never came from anyone else (O'Connor/Robertson, 1997).
Descartes studies led him to see a new way of thinking. His first work the "Rules for the Direction of the Mind" showcased his new beliefs. Even though this was distributed in manuscript form, this book was never published until 1701. Descartes in this book, Descartes gave the assumption that man's knowledge was limited by the untrue belief that the various objects of experience determine science. By 1634, Descartes had written his book "The World" and unfortunately only parts of this book survived due to the Catholic Church condemning it. He then held back his book because he supported the Copernican theory. (which Galileo wrote about) The theory stated that the Earth was the not the center of the universe but revolved around the sun and he had written about it in his book "The World."
Descartes wanted to conclude in unquestionable truths, and therefore held the highest standards in his quest. Knowledge had to be doubtless, based upon universal, one hundred percent correct facts. In order to achieve this he took anything partially or possibly as completely false to 'be on the safe side', so to speak. He started, then, by analyzing his epistemological sources. Firstly, senses sometimes deceive us: a straight stick appears bent when put into water, the world seems to shimmer over the roads on hot days, things...
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