Rene Descartes

Topics: René Descartes, Analytic geometry, Cartesian coordinate system Pages: 9 (3509 words) Published: February 24, 2013
While the great philosophical distinction between mind and body in western thought can be traced to the Greeks, it is to the seminal work of René Descartes (1596-1650), French mathematician, philosopher, and physiologist, that we owe the first systematic account of the mind/body relationship (Wozniak). As a key figure in the Scientific Revolution, Rene Descartes was one of the most intelligent men in his era. With his numerous writings and works, he allowed us to understand modern philosophy, the human body and the mind, and even physics. He was a famous mathematician, philosopher, and scientist who made many contributions to society that we still see today. René Descartes is often credited with being the “Father of Modern Philosophy.” He was given this title due to both his break with the traditional Scholastic-Aristotelian philosophy prevalent at his time and to his development and promotion of the new, mechanistic sciences. He is also famous for having promoted a new conception of matter, which allowed for the accounting of physical phenomena by way of mechanical explanations (Wozniak). Most of the contributions were in the category of philosophy and reasoning, but a lot of the important ones had to deal with math and science. Out of all the contributions Rene Descartes has made, the idea of analytic geometry is one of his most famous works and contributions to today’s mathematical world.

Descartes was born on March 31, 1596 in the town of La Haye, which was renamed Descartes, in France. He was the son of an intellectual and Councilor in the French Parliament named Joachim Descartes and his wife Jeanne Brochard who died when Rene was born (Rene Descartes).Descartes was one five surviving children of his parents but was raised by his grandmother and a nurse. He was determined to make a good learning environment for his son, which obviously paid off. Rene Descartes was always eager to learn. At the age of 8, he attended the Jesuit college of Henry VI in La Fleche, France. There he studied grammar, literature, mathematics, and science. While he was in school, it made him realize how little he knew about mathematics and that was his inspiration to learn and study it. In 1614, he left La Fleche to study civil and cannon law at Poitiers. After two years at the school, Descartes received his baccalaureate and licentiate degrees in law. But law was not his only passion; on the side he would study philosophy, theology, and medicine. Descartes spent a short time in the military. He was enlisted in military school in Breda in the Netherlands and then joined the Bavarian army in 1619. While in the military, he had fought in the Thirty Years War. He was described as a frail person who spent most of his time in bed because of poor health, but it is where he did all of his thinking. He sometimes had revelations in his dreams. He traveled all over Europe to Holland, Italy, Germany, and many more, until he grew tired of the moving and decided to settle down in Holland where he spent twenty years of his life and where he did most of his writings. Descartes was persuaded to go to Stockholm, Sweden by Queen Christina and soon died of pneumonia on February 11, 1650 at the age of 54 because of poor health, a cool climate, and having to walk to the palace every day at five in the morning which caused inflammation of the lungs. Rene Descartes wrote a number of things in his life time that had to deal with philosophy, science, and mathematics. Most of his well known works was written about philosophy. Descartes attempted to address the former issue via his method of doubt. He did this through what is said that is his most famous work, Meditationes de Prima Philosophia, or Meditations on First Philosophy. It is broken up into six meditations. In the first meditation, he raises skeptical questions about the things he has believed in his life and explains how he came to believe them. He also explains that everything he has come to know and...

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SparkNotes Editors
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