1188 words - 5 pages

For thousands of years prior to the Renaissance, the perspectives and beliefs of society remained relatively unaltered. However, with the start of the Renaissance around the 14th century, the world underwent rapid and radical change. Within the span of a relatively few hundred years, the extraordinary breakthroughs in science, traditional philosophy, and technology dramatically challenged society’s belief. Suddenly robbed of their long held beliefs, they realized that in the face of these new challenges, their traditional beliefs were no longer able to guide them. To find solace, they concluded that form of guidance needed to be developed, one that could meet these challenges. Rising out of ...view middle of the document...

Additionally, it is beyond the scope of this paper to cover each component of each philosophers theory, as such, only what is need to show the theories impact is provided. As a result, there are parts of the respective theories that are left out.

As previously mentioned, the Renaissance brought about extraordinary challenges to the status quo. One of the most significant philosophers to make contributions to the field of modern philosophy is René Descartes. In recognition of his significant contributions to the field, he is considered both one of the first modern rationalist in history and the father of modern philosophy. While he is notable for a number of contributions, he is especially well known for the tremendous weight he put on utilizing human reason to solve problems. This emphasis on reason allowed Descartes to introduce a number of revolutionary concepts to the fields of mathematics, science, and epistemology.

In 1637, the decision was made to publish Descartes’s La Géométrie, a decision that would forever alter mathematics. In La Géométrie, he shows how one can apply their innate reasoning ability to solve mathematical equations. By using reason, he argues that one could combine the best elements found “in geometrical analysis and in algebra” to overcome any shortcomings found in geometrical analysis and algebra (Descartes). Essentially what he is proposing with the previous quote is to take the separate fields of geometrical analysis and algebra and combine them into a single field. Today, this idea is known by a number of interchangeable names including: Cartesian geometry, coordinate geometry, and analytic geometry. Descartes’s idea is formally defined by The Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “the study of geometric properties by means of algebraic operations upon symbols defined in terms of a coordinate system” (Analytic geometry - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Besides the significance of Descartes’s Cartesian geometry to mathematics, it also laid the foundation needed for Leibniz to develop his concept of physics and his famous infinitesimal calculus. As result of the mathematical revolution Descartes inspired, the Adolf Mader considers him “the turning point between medieval and modern mathematics” (Mader 2010).

Another major contribution Descartes makes to modern philosophy and subsequently western culture is in the field of epistemology. After taking a ‘step-back’ and looking at the grander picture, he came to a most troubling conclusion. He realized that the “past history of philosophy [was] completely contradictory…” as the result of men having pursued “…diametrically opposed theses” (Marías). In order to rectify this problem, he...

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