3219 words - 13 pages

Philosophy in Mathematics

Mathematics has contributed to the alteration of technology over many years. The most noticeable mathematical technology is the evolution of the abacus to the many variations of the calculator. Some people argue that the changes in technology have been for the better while others argue they have been for the worse. While this paper does not address specifically technology, this paper rather addresses influential persons in philosophy to the field of mathematics. In order to understand the impact of mathematics, this paper will delve into the three philosophers of the past who have contributed to this academic. In this paper, I will cover the views of three philosophers of mathematics encompassing their history, views and effects on technology. Rene Descartes (1596-1650), G. W. Leibniz (1646-1716), and Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) (Ebersole, S. (#5)) are the three philosophers. Though all three of these philosophers contributed their own reviews on the subject of mathematical philosophy, they all saw the world and thus it‘s mechanical contributions “as being controlled by mathematical principles.” (Ebersole, S.).

Rene Descartes was born, March 31, 1596 near Tours, France (Weisstein, E.), to an important family; Descartes’ father held a position as “Councilor” in the local parliament. Rene was the 2nd of four children in his family, and suffered chronic illness’ (Wilkins, D.). At the young age of 8 years old, Descartes attended a school for which he would hold indubitable regard, the Jesuit School at La Flêche.

Descartes would continue at this school for eight years until 1612 at which point the encountered the influential (on his life) Mydorge and Mersenne. Together Descartes would devote the next two years of his life solely to the study of mathematics (Wilkins, D.). After these two years, Descartes was at a pivotal moment in his life. At this time it was customary for men of his stature to choose from church or army, which he would serve. Choosing the latter position, Descartes joined the army in 1617.

In an event of chance, Descartes stumbled upon Isaac Beeckman, head of the Dutch College at Dort, who would translate a sign off the streets. This sign was in actuality a challenge to anyone to solve a geometrical problem (Wilkins, D.). Within a few hours, with help from Descartes’ respect and appreciation of mathematics, he found a solution and a friendship was formed between Beeckman and Descartes. This unexpected turn of events fueled Descartes’ contempt of his life in the army; but due to family influence and tradition, he remained a soldier until 1621 (Wilkins, D.). Descartes was 25 years old.

The next couple of years found him relocated all around Europe until he settles in Paris in 1626. In the five years from when he left the army until his alighting in Paris, Descartes had devoted his life to the study of pure mathematics. There, in Paris, Descartes would live for two...

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