Often credited with being called “The Father of Modern Philosophy”, this title is supported by his contributions to philosophy and mathematics. The coordinate system, used today, is accredited to him along with many other mathematical contributions. He also had many contributions to philosophy, including his most famous, Meditations on First Philosophy.
Every time you graph an equation on a Cartesian coordinate system, you are using the work of Rene Descartes. Born in La Haye on March 31, 1596, Descartes was sent to the Jesuit college of La Fleche where he studied there and then entered the University of Poitiers, receiving his Baccalaureate and License in Canon & Civil Law. His great encroachment was that a point in space could be similarly determined by three coordinates, but he confined his attention to plane curves. Descartes went steps further than earlier writers and pointed out the very important facts that two or more curves can be referred to one and the same system of coordinates, and also that the points in which two curves intersect can be determined by finding the roots common to their two equations.
Descartes had many other mathematical contributions. He discovered the Law of Angular Deficiency for all polyhedrons and was the first to offer a measurable explanation of rainbows. In one of his studies, La Geometrie, he introduced a raised number to indicate an exponent. He also brought about using x, y, and z for unknowns in an equation.
Rene Descartes was also quite the contributor to the study of philosophy. He introduced the idea that all knowledge is the product of reasoning based on self-evident assumptions. In 1639, he began writing his most known contribution, Meditations. It begins by asking questions concerning the possibility of knowledge. He is not a skeptic, but uses skepticism as a motivator for his reader to discover by way of philosophical investigation what creates this...
Cited: Burton, David. The History of Mathematics: An Introduction. New York: Allyn and Bacon, 1985.
Hooker, Richard. "Rene Descartes." The European Enlightenment. 1999. Web. 2 Oct. 2009. http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~dee/ENLIGHT/DESCARTE.HTM.
Smith, Kurt, comp. "Descartes ' Life and Works." Stanford Ecyclopedia of Philosophy. 9 Apr. 2001. Web. 2 Oct. 2009. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/descartes-works/#Med.
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