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René Descartes

René Descartes

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René Descartes

 Renatus Cartesius: "Cartesian" 31 March 1596 – 11 February 1650) was a French philosopher, mathematician, and writer who spent most of his adult 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 system — 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. Descartes frequently sets his views apart from those of his predecessors. In the opening section of the Passions of the Soul, a treatise on the Early Modern version of what are now commonly called emotions, Descartes goes so far as to assert that he will write on this topic "as if no one had written on these matters before". Many elements of his philosophy have precedents in late Aristotelianism, the revived Stoicism of the 16th century, or in earlier philosophers like St. Augustine. In his natural philosophy, he differs from the schools on two major points: First, he rejects the analysis of corporeal substance into matter and form; second, he rejects any appeal to ends—divine or natural—in explaining natural phenomena.[6] In his theology, he insists on the absolute freedom of God's act of creation. Descartes was a major figure in 17th-century continental rationalism, later advocated by Baruch Spinoza and Gottfried Leibniz, and opposed by the empiricist school of thought consisting of Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Hume. Leibniz, Spinoza and Descartes were all well versed in mathematics as well as philosophy, and Descartes and Leibniz contributed greatly to science as well. He is perhaps best known for the philosophical statement " Cogito ergo sum" (French: Je pense, donc je suis; English: I think, therefore I am), found in part IV of Discourse on the Method (1637 – written in French but with inclusion of "Cogito ergo sum") and §7 of part I of Principles of Philosophy (1644 – written in Latin).

Descartes was born in La Haye en Touraine (now Descartes), Indre-et-Loire, France. When he was one year old, his mother Jeanne Brochard died. His father Joachim was a member in the provincial parliament. At the age of eight, he entered the Jesuit Collège Royal Henry-Le-Grand at La Flèche. After graduation in December 1616, he studied at theUniversity of Poitiers, earning a Baccalauréat and Licence in law, in accordance with his father's wishes that he should become a lawyer. "I entirely abandoned the study of letters. Resolving to seek no knowledge other than that of which could be found in myself or else in the great book of the world, I spent the rest of my youth traveling, visiting courts and armies, mixing with people of diverse temperaments and ranks, gathering various experiences, testing myself in the situations which fortune offered me, and at all times reflecting upon whatever came my way so as to derive some profit from it." (Descartes, Discourse on the Method). In 1618, Descartes was engaged in the army of Maurice of Nassau in the Dutch Republic, but as a truce had been established between Holland and Spain, Descartes used his spare time to study mathematics. In this way he became acquainted with Isaac Beeckman, principal of Dordrecht school. Beeck man had proposed a difficult mathematical problem, and to his astonishment, it was the young Descartes who found the solution. Both believed that it was necessary to create a method that thoroughly linked mathematics and physics. While in the service of the Duke Maximilian of Bavaria, Descartes was present at the Battle of the White Mountain outside Prague, in November 1620.

In it Descartes lays out four rules of thought. who was born in 1635 in Deventer. Santpoort (1638–1640). selling all of his property to invest inbonds. Deventer (1632–34). Descartes found quite soon: his famous "I think". Despite these frequent moves he wrote all his major work during his 20-plus years in the Netherlands. Leiden (1640–41). he had a relationship with a servant girl. Connected with this correspondence. Endegeest (a castle near Oegstgeest) (1641–43). It was followed. his famous Discours de la Métode (Discourse on the Method). Francine Descartes died in 1640 in Amersfoort. Nevertheless. Descartes was present at the siege of La Rochelle by Cardinal Richelieu in 1627. that he dedicated to the Princess. Descartes was . and Descartes abandoned plans to publish Treatise on the World. with whom he had a daughter. whom he accused of plagiarizing some of his ideas. Leiden (1636). a kind of synthesis of the Meditations and the Discourse. In 1647. living at the Sjaerdemaslot. Leiden (1630). from Scarlet Fever. This basic truth. In Amsterdam. in 1637 he published part of this work in three essays: Les Météores (The Meteors). the pursuit of true wisdom and a central part of his life's work. Amsterdam (1634–35). while stationed in Neuburg an der Donau. at which time Descartes taught at the Utrecht University. Utrecht (1635– 36). Amsterdam (1630–32). meant to ensure that our knowledge rests upon a firm foundation. In October 1630 he had a falling-out with Beeckman. for him. Cartesian philosophy was condemned at the University of Utrecht. Descartes experienced a series of three powerful dreams or visions that he later claimed profoundly influenced his life. He concluded from these visions that the pursuit of science would prove to be. La Dioptrique (Dioptrics) and La Géométrie (Geometry). in 1644.Helena Jans van der Strom. where he lived until September 1649. he enrolled at the Leiden University to study mathematics with Jacob Golius and astronomy with Martin Hortensius. in 1649 he published Les Passions de l'âme (Passions of the Soul). by Principia Philosophiæ (Principles of Philosophy). and Descartes began his long correspondence with Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia. While in the Netherlands he changed his address frequently. he was awarded a pension by the King of France. which provided a comfortable income for the rest of his life. his work of the previous four years. Meditationes de Prima Philosophia (Meditations on First Philosophy). and the next year. Francine. written in Latin and thus addressed to the learned. Descartes also saw very clearly that all truths were linked with one another. He arrived in La Haye in 1623. Galileo was condemned by the Roman Catholic Church. He returned to the Dutch Republic in 1628. In 1641 he published a metaphysics work. It was during a stay in Paris that he composed his first essay on method: Regulae ad Directionem Ingenii (Rules for the Direction of the Mind). Egmond (1636–38). devoted mainly to moral and psychological subjects. René Descartes (right) with QueenChristina of Sweden (left). so that finding a fundamental truth and proceeding with logic would open the way to all science. In 1633. In 1622 he returned to France. Franeker (1629). where he managed to revolutionize mathematics and philosophy. In 1643. Amsterdam (1629–30). living among other places in Dordrecht (1628). and finally for an extended time in Egmond-Binnen (1643–49). In April 1629 he joined the University of Franeker. and during the next few years spent time in Paris and other parts of Europe. under the name "Poitevin". Germany.On the night of 10–11 November 1619. preceded by an introduction. Descartes continued to publish works concerning both mathematics and philosophy for the rest of his life.

He started out his career as a mathematician and is credited with discovering the concept of Analytic Geometry. or believed he knew. Cogito. Ergo Sum You have heard the Latin phrase “Cogito. Later. Descartes was a faithful Catholic. was published in 1647. or is it a dream? Descartes came to believe that he could not even know if he was awake or if he was dreaming things. He started with the premise of doubt.interviewed by Frans Burman at Egmond-Binnen in 1648. Is it real. RENE DESCARTES-PHILOSOPHY French philosopher René Descartes (1596–1650) is often called the Father of Modern Philosophy. He eventually “hid” his cont roversial theories in a philosophy book called Meditations. they are. still resting between two other graves — those of the scholarly monks Jean Mabillon and Bernard de Montfaucon — in a chapel of the abbey. but he privately knew the Church was wrongheaded in its resistance to and persecution of men of science. The cause of death was said to be pneumonia.” became the rallying cry of the modern philosophical age. consisting in the search for first causes. This edition Descartes dedicated to Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia. Descartes was hesitant to publish much of his work because it supported the findings of Galileo. prepared by Abbot Claude Picot. therefore I am. Descartes stayed at the French ambassador Pierre Chanut. which he dedicated to the local Church leaders in an effort to curry favor. He believed that everything that he knew. accustomed to working in bed until noon. This is the classic Skeptic starting point. “I think. remains in the Swedish church. his remains were taken to France and buried in the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés in Paris. This was called the Dream Hypothesis and is radical skepticism taken to the max. In the preface Descartes praised true philosophy as a means to attain wisdom. ergo sum” in its English translation. and if the Church did not adapt. he may have suffered damage to his health from Christina's demands for early morning study (the lack of sleep could have severely compromised his immune system). and sensory experience is inherently suspect. It is perhaps the most famous sentence in the history of philosophy. He also was a physicist of great repute. Perhaps there was an Evil Demon who had brainwashed us into believing that all we see and sense is reality. . erected in the 18th century. better and more secure. came from his senses. not even in the realm of mathematics. This is called the Demon Hypothesis. and finally says that there is a fifth. but is really an illusion devised by this diabolical entity. René Descartes died on 11 February 1650 in Stockholm. the Pope placed his works on As a Roman Catholic in a Protestant nation. Descartes went on to speculate that there might not be an all-loving God orchestrating things from a celestial perch. He knew that these men and their philosophies were the way of the future. In 1663. where he had been invited as a tutor for Queen Christina of Sweden. two centuries later. Sweden. Although the National Convention in 1792 had planned to transfer his remains to the Panthéon. Descartes quickly discovered that to doubt absolutely everything is to be poised on the precipice of madness. A French translation of Principia Philosophiæ. He decided to doubt everything. His memorial. He identifies four ordinary sources to reach wisdom. it would suffer as a result Descartes sought nothing less than the formidable task of a radically revisionist look at knowledge. he was interred in a graveyard used mainly for unbaptized infants in Adolf Fredriks kyrka in Stockholm. There is no absolute certainty.

naturally I would have made myself perfect. meaning that he believed that you can know things without having to rely on sense experience. It is an ontological argument similar to the one employed by St. animated entity. He adds that not all ideas come from sensory experience. Descartes sounds like St. According to Descartes. That the mind can know things without actually experiencing them is called rationalism. logic. which come from what we experience through our senses. Self-awareness. They are similar to the Platonic theory of Forms. talking. two elements compose reality. . therefore I am‟ proves that I exist. and perfection cannot come from something as so patently imperfect as I. flesh is weak” belief. These are called innate ideas. Other information gathered from experience is called secondary. though I am not perfect. Descartes believed that a body without spirit could still be a walking. He called them substances. Descartes used the following arguments to “prove” the existence of God:  “„I think. flawed mortal man. and extended substances are our physical bodies. than who did? God. or primary ideas. If I were my own creator. Though a scientist and mathematician. so where does this idea of perfection come from? Not from me. ready for the accessing. there you are. and if I did not. Descartes turned his sights on the nature of reality. You can count on at least one thing in this wacky world. like an android.” Having proved that he existed and having “proved” the existence of God. Feelings. mathematics. knocking on his door. according to Descartes. according to Descartes: Wherever you go. This proves that I did not create myself. Anselm a few centuries earlier. Notions of morality. and that is God. two other types of ideas: adventitious. Okay. Thinking substances are our minds. as we know it. Descartes was initially hesitant to publish his theories because they strongly resembled those of Galileo. but other ideas dwell within the mind. and fictitious. and they are best kept under control. and he did not want Torquemada.Everything could be questioned. and the idea of God are all innate ideas. He had a mechanistic view of the physical world and viewed the mind as being imbued with spirit. Paul when he speaks of the body-mind disconnection. or dualism. which are what the name implies. but one thing remained a fact: the thinking of the thinker. There are also. at least to his satisfaction. But he ultimately did so and further shook the foundations of the Church.Descartes then tried to use this newfound certainty to prove the existence of God. They are not to be trusted. I'm imperfect. the Grand Inquisitor. or passionsas he called them.”  “I have a conception of what perfection is. This is a philosophical spin on the New Testament's “spirit is willing. of course. Descartes was a Rationalist. which was reeling from the one-two punch of the Protestant Reformation and the Scientific Revolution. are generated by the body. So there must be a perfect being. but I am an imperfect. Descartes calls these ideas innate. After all.

Locke was born on 29 August 1632. having studied medicine extensively during his time at Oxford and worked with such noted scientists and thinkers as Robert Boyle. to serve as Lord Ashley's personal physician. also called John. In 1666. The dean of the college at the time was John Owen. Both parents were Puritans. His writings influenced Voltaire and Rousseau. in a small thatched cottage by the church in Wrington. Although a capable student. was a country lawyer and clerk to the Justices of the Peace in Chew Magna. of which he eventually became a member. and that knowledge is instead determined only byexperience derived from sense perception. Locke had been looking for a career and in 1667 moved into Shaftesbury's home at Exeter House in London. about twelve miles from Bristol. Locke was sent to the prestigious Westminster School in London under the sponsorship of Alexander Popham. Shaftesbury survived and prospered. It was also during this time that Locke served as Secretary of the Board of Trade and . In London. during 1671. Locke's medical knowledge was put to the test when Shaftesbury's liver infection became life-threatening. Oxford. Locke was irritated by the undergraduate curriculum of the time. whom he knew from the Westminster School. After completing his studies there.was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Locke was introduced to medicine and the experimental philosophy being pursued at other universities and in the English Royal Society. he maintained that we are born without innate ideas. Locke coordinated the advice of several physicians and was probably instrumental in persuading Shaftesbury to undergo an operation (then lifethreatening itself) to remove the cyst. Contrary to preexisting Cartesian philosophy. His work had a great impact upon the development of epistemology and political philosophy. vice-chancellor of the university. He postulated that the mind was a blank slate or tabula rasa. following the tradition of Francis Bacon. His mother was Agnes Keene. Rousseau and Kant. Locke was the first to define the self through a continuity of consciousness. crediting Locke with saving his life. Soon after Locke's birth. Robert Hooke and Richard Lower. described in the Epistle to the reader of the Essay. It was in Shaftesbury's household. such as René Descartes. a member of Parliament and his father's former commander. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists. He obtained a bachelor of medicine in 1674. Thomas Willis. He was baptised the same day. he was admitted to Christ Church. where Locke grew up in a rural Tudor house in Belluton. figuring prominently in the work of later philosophers such as Hume. Sydenham had a major effect on Locke's natural philosophical thinking – an effect that would become evident in the An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Through his friend Richard Lower. Somerset. 1st Earl of Shaftesbury. who had come to Oxford seeking treatment for a liver infection. that the meeting took place. He found the works of modern philosophers. the family moved to the market town of Pensford. which was the genesis of what would later become the Essay.[7] who had served as a captain of cavalry for theParliamentarian forces during the early part of the English Civil War. Cooper was impressed with Locke and persuaded him to become part of his retinue. he met Lord Anthony Ashley Cooper. Two extant Drafts still survive from this period. many Scottish Enlightenment thinkers. more interesting than the classical material taught at the university. widely known as the Father of Classical Liberalism. as well as the American revolutionaries. he is equally important to social contract theory. Locke was awarded a bachelor's degree in 1656 and a master's degree in 1658. Locke's father.John Locke  29 August 1632 – 28 October 1704). about seven miles south of Bristol. Locke resumed his medical studies under the tutelage of Thomas Sydenham. Locke's theory of mind is often cited as the origin of modern conceptions of identity and the self. In 1647. His contributions to classical republicanism and liberal theory are reflected in the United States Declaration of Independence.

although there is little evidence to suggest that he was directly involved in the scheme. Locke fled to the Netherlands in 1683. Locke spent some time travelling across France as tutor and medical attendant to Caleb Banks. Locke accompanied William of Orange's wife back to England in 1688. Locke composed the bulk of the Two Treatises of Government. and is buried in the churchyard of the village of High Laver. Locke had time to return to his writing. exerted great influence on Locke's political ideas. as a founder of the Whig movement. In the Netherlands.Plantations and Secretary to the Lords and Proprietors of the Carolinas.[10] east of Harlow in Essex. helping to shape his ideas on international trade and economics. Locke did not return home until after the Glorious Revolution. under strong suspicion of involvement in the Rye House Plot. Although his time there was marked by variable health fromasthma attacks. He died in 28 October 1704. recent scholarship has shown that the work was composed well before this date. spending a great deal of time re-working the Essay and composing the Letter on Toleration. While it was once thought that Locke wrote the Treatises to defend the Glorious Revolution of 1688. most likely at Shaftesbury's prompting. Though Locke was associated with the influential Whigs. and it is now viewed as a more general argument against absolute monarchy (particularly as espoused by Robert Filmer and Thomas Hobbes) and for individual consent as the basis of political legitimacy. Locke never married nor had children. the Two Treatises of Civil Government and A Letter Concerning Toleration all appearing in quick succession. He returned to England in 1679 when Shaftesbury's political fortunes took a brief positive turn. The bulk of Locke's publishing took place upon his return from exile – his aforementioned Essay Concerning Human Understanding. where he had lived in the household of Sir Francis Masham since 1691. During this period he discussed matters with such figures as John Dryden and Isaac Newton. he nevertheless became an intellectual hero of the Whigs. his ideas about natural rights and government are today considered quite revolutionary for that period in English history. . Around this time. Following Shaftesbury's fall from favour in 1675. Locke became involved in politics when Shaftesbury became Lord Chancellor in 1672. Locke's close friend Lady Masham invited him to join her at the Mashams' country house in Essex. Shaftesbury.

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