René Descartes

Philosopher, Academic

1596 – 1650


Who was René Descartes?

René Descartes was a French philosopher, mathematician, and writer who spent most of his life in the Dutch Republic. He has been dubbed The Father of Modern Philosophy, and much subsequent Western philosophy is a response to his writings, which are studied closely to this day. In particular, his Meditations on First Philosophy continues to be a standard text at most university philosophy departments. Descartes' influence in mathematics is equally apparent; the Cartesian coordinate systemallowing reference to a point in space as a set of numbers, and allowing algebraic equations to be expressed as geometric shapes in a two-dimensional coordinate system — was named after him. He is credited as the father of analytical geometry, the bridge between algebra and geometry, crucial to the discovery of infinitesimal calculus and analysis. Descartes was also one of the key figures in the scientific revolution and has been described as an example of genius. He refused to accept the authority of previous philosophers and also refused to accept the obviousness of his own senses.

Famous Quotes:

  • Cogito ergo sum
  • To know what people really think, pay regard to what they do, rather than what they say.
  • If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.
  • Nothing is more fairly distributed than common sense: no one thinks he needs more of it than he already has.
  • Everything is self-evident.
  • Divide each difficulty into as many parts as is feasible and necessary to resolve it.
  • The reading of all good books is like a conversation with all the finest men of past centuries.
  • It is not enough to have a good mind, the main thing is to use it well.
  • Except our own thoughts, there is nothing absolutely in our power.
  • Whenever anyone has offended me, I try to raise my soul so high that the offense cannot reach it.

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Mar 31, 1596
Descartes, Indre-et-Loire
Also known as
  • Rene Descartes
  • Father of Modern Philosophy
  • Descartes
  • Catholicism
  • French people
  • France
  • Baccalauréat, University of Poitiers
    ( - 1616/10)
  • Prytanée National Militaire
    (1607 - 1615)
  • Philosophy
  • Mathematics
Lived in
  • Indre-et-Loire
Feb 11, 1650

on July 23, 2013


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