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Rene Descartes: French Mathematician And Philosopher

2243 words - 9 pages

Rene Descartes: An Author Study
Rene Descartes was a 17th Century mathematician and French Philosopher whose life's work focused on providing a new prospective on the human perception of reality. The definition of this reality is seen as Descartes greatest life goal. Coined as the "Father of Modern Philosophy," (Cunningham & Reich, 2010, p. 385), Descartes laid the groundwork the philosophy and reality as we perceive it today. Descartes autobiography, Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason and Seeking Truth in the Sciences (Descartes, 2004) shares with the reader a glimpse into the mind of a brilliant, yet frail, man who provided an in depth explanation on the perception of human existence and the reality we live in today. The works, shortened to Discourse on Method for the modern day, outlined in Cunningham & Reich (2010), focuses on Descartes's proof as to the existence of God and is the crux of his argument and stance on the reality of man.
Background: Life & Work of the Father of Modern Philosophy
Descartes was born in LaHayer, France on March 31, 1596. Trained in Aristotelian school, he attended boarding school in a Jesuits-based boarding college at the age of 8 years old, going on to law school at the age of twenty two. His father placed increased focus on the importance of education, as he was a member of the provincial parliament of France. Descartes’ mother died while he was young and so he was raised by his grandmother and then sent to boarding school. Descartes schooling focused on theology and philosophy as well as science and mathematics, including the study of the metaphysical and geometry. He was first considered a mathematician and then philosopher by many, with his addition of his work on geometry and laws of refraction (“René Descartes,”2014).
Descartes ideas were very different from other 17th Century philosophers who based findings on emotion, not reason. Descartes had a new perspective on an established reasoning. He looked at the world with a more rational approach to prove the existence of rational thought. Descartes proved existence of man by the act of doubting. The act of doubt that one was thinking, proved humans are a "thinking being" (Cunningham & Reich, 2010, p.395). Descartes argued that human perception may be inaccurate, so this cannot be a message for determining what reality is. Descartes also proved the soul separate from the body. His doubt led to believing in something greater than himself. Cunningham & Reich (2010) note that Descartes main accomplished was by way of "refusing to believe anything that could not be decisively proved to be true" (p.385). Descartes never married but had one child who died from fever at age 5. He spent his later life in the Netherlands and then Sweden, where he died from complications of pneumonia at age fifty three in 1650 (“René Descartes,”2014).
Summary: Discourse on Method Part IV
The previous works in mathematics and science along...

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