FACTOID # 17: Though Rhode Island is the smallest state in total area, it has the longest official name: The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.
 
 Home   Encyclopedia   Statistics   States A-Z   Flags   Maps   FAQ   About 
 
WHAT'S NEW
 

SEARCH ALL

FACTS & STATISTICS    Advanced view

Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:

 

 

(* = Graphable)

 

 


Encyclopedia > René Descartes
René Descartes
René Descartes

René Descartes (IPA: [rəne.dekɑʁt], March 31, 1596February 11, 1650), also known as Cartesius, worked as a philosopher and mathematician. He is equally notable for both his groundbreaking work in philosophy and mathematics. As the inventor of the Cartesian coordinate system, he formulated the basis of modern geometry (analytic geometry), which in turn influenced the development of modern calculus. René Descartes, painting by Frans Hals, ca. ... René Descartes, painting by Frans Hals, ca. ... The International Phonetic Alphabet is a phonetic alphabet used by linguists to accurately and uniquely represent each of the wide variety of sounds (phones or phonemes) the human vocal apparatus can produce. ... March 31 is the 90th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (91st in Leap years), with 275 days remaining, as the final day of March. ... Events February 5 - 26 catholics crucified in Nagasaki, Japan. ... February 11 is the 42nd day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... Events June 23 - Claimant King Charles II of England, Scotland and Ireland arrives in Scotland, the only of the three Kingdoms that has accepted him as ruler. ... A philosopher is a person devoted to studying and producing results in philosophy. ... A mathematician is a person whose area of study and research is mathematics. ... Cartesian means relating to the French mathematician and philosopher Descartes, who, among other things, worked to merge algebra and Euclidean geometry. ... Analytic geometry, also called coordinate geometry and earlier referred to as Cartesian geometry, is the study of geometry using the principles of algebra. ... For other uses of the term calculus see calculus (disambiguation) Calculus is a central branch of mathematics, developed from algebra and geometry, and built on two major complementary ideas. ...


Descartes, sometimes called the founder of modern philosophy and the Father of Modern Mathematics, ranks as one of the most important and influential thinkers in modern western history. He inspired both his contemporaries and later generations of philosophers, leading them to form what we know today as continental rationalism, a philosophical position in 17th and 18th century Europe. A separate article deals with a different philosophical position called rationalism. ...


His most famous sentence is "cogito ergo sum", "I think, therefore I am". René Descartes (1596-1650) The Latin phrase cogito, ergo sum (I think, therefore I am) is possibly the single best-known philosophical statement and is attributed to René Descartes. ...

Contents

Descartes' life

Descartes (1596-1650) was born in La Haye, Indre-et-Loire, France. At the age of eight he entered the Jesuit College Royal Henry-Le-Grand at La Flèche. After graduation he studied at the University of Poitiers, graduating with a Baccalauréat and Licence in law in 1616. There are communes that have the name La Haye in France: La Haye, in the Seine-Maritime département La Haye, in the Vosges département Related La Haye-Aubrée, in the Eure département La Haye-Bellefond, in the Manche département La Haye-de-Calleville, in the Eure département La Haye-d... Indre-et-Loire is a département in west-central France named after the Indre and the Loire rivers. ... The Society of Jesus (Latin: Societas Iesu), commonly known as the Jesuits, is a Roman Catholic religious order. ... The entrance gate of the Prytanee National Militaire The Prytanée National Militaire is a French school managed by the military, offering regular high-school education as well as special preparatory school classes, equivalent in level to the first years of university, for students who wish to enter French military... Location within France Poitiers (population 85,000) is a small city located in west central France. ... Events Dirk Hartog lands on an island off the Western Australian coast Pocahontas arrives in England War between Venice and Austria Collegium Musicum founded in Prague Nicolaus Copernicus De revolutionibus is placed on the Index of Forbidden Books by the Roman Catholic Church Births May 18 - Johann Jakob Froberger, German...


Descartes never actually practiced law however, and in 1618 he entered the service of Prince Maurice of Nassau, leader of the United Provinces of the Netherlands, with the intention of following a military career. Here he met Isaac Beeckman, and composed a short treatise on music entitled Compendium Musicae. In 1619, he travelled in Germany, and on November 10 had a vision of a new mathematical and scientific system. In 1622 he returned to France, and during the next few years spent time in Paris and other parts of Europe. Descartes was present at the siege of La Rochelle by Cardinal Richelieu in 1627. Events March 8 - Johannes Kepler discovers the third law of planetary motion (he soon rejects the idea after some initial calculations were made but on May 15 confirms the discovery). ... Maurice of Nassau (in Dutch Maurits van Nassau) (14 November 1567–23 April 1625), Prince of Orange (1618–1625), son of William the Silent and Princess Anna of Saxony, was born at the castle of Dillenburg. ... Isaac Beeckman (December 10, 1588 - May 19, 1637) was a Dutch philosopher and scientist. ... Events May 13 - Dutch statesman Johan van Oldenbarnevelt is executed in The Hague after having been accused of treason. ... November 10 is the 314th day of the year (315th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 51 days remaining. ... Events January 1 - In the Gregorian calendar, January 1 is declared as the first day of the year, instead of March 25. ... The Eiffel Tower has become a symbol of Paris throughout the world. ... The entrance to the old La Rochelle harbour, with the two 14th century towers. ... For other uses of Richelieu, see Richelieu (disambiguation). ... Events A Dutch ship makes the first recorded sighting of the coast of South Australia. ...


In 1628 he composed Rules for the Direction of the Mind, and left for Holland, where he lived until 1649, changing his address frequently. In 1629 he began work on The World. In 1633, Galileo was condemned and Descartes abandoned plans to publish The World. In 1635, Descartes' daughter Francine was born. She was baptized on August 7, 1635 and died in 1640. Descartes published Discourse on Method, with Optics, Meteorology and Geometry in 1637. In 1641, Meditations on First Philosophy was published, with the first six sets of Objections and Replies. In 1642 the second edition of Meditations was published with all seven sets of Objections and Replies, followed by Letter to Dinet. In 1643, Cartesian philosophy was condemned at the University of Utrecht, and Descartes began his long correspondence with Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia. Descartes published Principles of Philosophy and visited France in 1644. In 1647 he was awarded a pension by the King of France, published Comments on a Certain Broadsheet and began work on The Description of the Human Body. He was interviewed by Frans Burman at Egmond-Binnen in 1648, resulting in Conversation with Burman. In 1649 he went to Sweden on invitation of professor Eitan Olevsky, and his Passions of the Soul, which he dedicated to Princess Elizabeth, were published. Events March 1 - writs were issued in February 1628 by Charles I of England that every county in England (not just seaport towns) pay ship tax by this date. ... This article should be transwikied to Wikisource RULES FOR THE DIRECTION OF THE MIND René Descartes (summary) Rule One -The aim of our studies should be to direct the mind with a view to forming true and sound judgements about whatever comes before it. ... Holland is the common name in English referring to the Kingdom of the Netherlands (or exclusively its European part)--although this is incorrect from a Dutch perspective. ... Events January 30 - King Charles I of England, Scotland and Ireland is beheaded. ... Events March 4 - Massachusetts Bay Colony is granted a Royal charter. ... Events February 13 - Galileo Galilei arrives in Rome for his trial before the Inquisition. ... Galileo Galilei (Pisa, February 15, 1564 – Arcetri, January 8, 1642), was a Tuscan astronomer, philosopher, and physicist who is closely associated with the scientific revolution. ... Events February 10 - The Académie française in Paris is expanded to become a national academy for the artistic elite. ... August 7 is the 219th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (220th in leap years), with 146 days remaining. ... Events December 1 - Portugal regains its independence from Spain and João IV of Portugal becomes king. ... The Discourse on Method is a philosophical and mathematical treatise published by René Descartes in 1637. ... Events February 3 - Tulipmania collapses in Netherlands by government order February 15 - Ferdinand III becomes Holy Roman Emperor December 17 - Shimabara Rebellion erupts in Japan Pierre de Fermat makes a marginal claim to have proof of what would become known as Fermats last theorem. ... Events The Long Parliament passes a series of legislation designed to contain Charles Is absolutist tendencies. ... Meditations on First Philosophy (subtitled In which the existence of God and the real distinction of mind and body, are demonstrated), written by René Descartes (1596 - 1650) and first published in 1641, expands upon Descartes philosophical system, which he first introduced in his Discourse on Method (1637). ... Events January 4 - Charles I attempts to arrest five leading members of the Long Parliament, but they escape. ... Events January 21 - Abel Tasman discovers Tonga February 6 - Abel Tasman discovers the Fiji islands. ... Utrecht University (Universiteit Utrecht in Dutch) is a university in Utrecht, The Netherlands. ... Elisabeth von der Pfalz or Elisabeth of Bohemia or Princess Palatine (1618-1680) was the eldest daughter of Friedrich V and Elisabeth Stuart. ... Events February to August - Explorer Abel Tasmans second expedition for the Dutch East India Company maps the north coast of Australia. ... Events March 14 - Thirty Years War: Bavaria, Cologne, France and Sweden sign the Truce of Ulm. ... Comments on a Certain Broadsheet deserves an Internet version in its entirety but as far as I have been able to ascertain, there is none. ... The Description of the Human Body (La description du corps humain) is an unfinished treatise written in the 1640s by René Descartes. ... Egmond-Binnen is one of the towns in the municipality of Bergen, North Holland. ... Events Peace treaty signed at Westphalia ends the Thirty Years War. ... Events January 30 - King Charles I of England, Scotland and Ireland is beheaded. ... Elisabeth von der Pfalz or Elisabeth of Bohemia or Princess Palatine (1618-1680) was the eldest daughter of Friedrich V and Elisabeth Stuart. ...


René Descartes died of pneumonia on February 11, 1650 in Stockholm, Sweden, where he had been invited as a teacher for Queen Christina of Sweden. Accustomed to working in bed till noon, he may have suffered a detrimental effect on his health due to Christina's demands for early morning study. As a Catholic in a Protestant nation, he was interred in a graveyard mainly used for unbaptized infants, in Adolf Fredrikskyrkan in Stockholm. Later his remains were taken to France from Sweden and buried in the Church of St. Genevieve-du-Mont in Paris. A memorial erected in the 18th century remains in the Swedish church. Pneumonia (the ancient Greek word for lungs) is defined as an inflamation, usually caused by infection, involving the alveoli of the lungs. ... February 11 is the 42nd day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... Events June 23 - Claimant King Charles II of England, Scotland and Ireland arrives in Scotland, the only of the three Kingdoms that has accepted him as ruler. ... The Stockholm City Hall Stockholm  listen is the capital and the largest city of Sweden. ... Christina (1626 – 1689) or Kristina, later known as Maria Christina Alexandra and sometime Count Dohna, was Queen of Sweden from 1632 to 1654, was the daughter of King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden. ... Adolf Fredrikskyrkan is the cemetery in Sweden where Rene Descartes was first buried, before his remains were moved to France. ... (17th century - 18th century - 19th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 18th century refers to the century that lasted from 1701 through 1800. ...


During the French Revolution, his remains were disinterred for burial in the Panthéon, among the great French thinkers. The village in the Loire Valley where he was born was renamed La Haye - Descartes. The period of the French Revolution is very important in the history of France and the world. ... The Panthéon The Panthéon is a building in the Latin Quarter in Paris, France. ... Loire Valley (French Vallée de la Loire) is known as the Garden of France and the Cradle of the French Language. ...


In 1667, after his death, the Roman Catholic Church placed his works on the Index of Prohibited Books. Events January 20 - Poland cedes Kyiv, Smolensk, and eastern Ukraine to Russia in the Treaty of Andrusovo that put a final end to the Deluge, and Poland lost its status as a Central European power. ... Saint Peters Basilica in Rome. ... The Index Librorum Prohibitorum (List of Prohibited Books)—also called Index Expurgatorius—is a list of publications which Roman Catholic laymen were banned from reading, pernicious books, and also the rules of the Church relating to books. ...


Significance

Often regarded as the first "modern" thinker for providing a philosophical framework for the natural sciences as these began to develop, Descartes in his Meditations on First Philosophy attempts to arrive at a fundamental set of principles that one can know as true without any doubt. To achieve this, he employs a method called Methodological Skepticism: he doubts any idea that can be doubted. The term natural science as the way in which different fields of study are defined is determined as much by historical convention as by the present day meaning of the words. ... Meditations on First Philosophy (subtitled In which the existence of God and the real distinction of mind and body, are demonstrated), written by René Descartes (1596 - 1650) and first published in 1641, expands upon Descartes philosophical system, which he first introduced in his Discourse on Method (1637). ... This article is in need of attention. ...


He gives the example of dreaming: in a dream, one's senses perceive things that seem real, but do not actually exist. Thus one cannot rely on the data of the senses as necessarily true. Or, perhaps an "evil genius" exists: a supremely powerful and cunning being who sets out to try to deceive Descartes from knowing the true nature of reality. Given these possibilities, what can one know for certain?


Initially, Descartes arrives at only a single principle: if I am being deceived, then surely "I" must exist. Most famously, this is known as cogito ergo sum, ("I think, therefore I am"). (These words do not appear in the Meditations, although he had written them in his earlier work Discourse on Method). René Descartes (1596-1650) The Latin phrase cogito, ergo sum (I think, therefore I am) is possibly the single best-known philosophical statement and is attributed to René Descartes. ... The Discourse on Method is a philosophical and mathematical treatise published by René Descartes in 1637. ...


Therefore, Descartes concludes that he can be certain that he exists. But in what form? You perceive your body through the use of the senses; however, these have previously proved unreliable. So Descartes concludes that at this point, he can only say that he is a thinking thing. Thinking is his essence as it is the only thing about him that cannot be doubted.


To further demonstrate the limitations of the senses, Descartes proceeds with what is known as the Wax Argument. He considers a piece of wax: his senses inform him that it has certain characteristics, such as shape, texture, size, color, smell, and so forth. However, when he brings the wax towards a flame, these characteristics change completely. However, it seems that it is still the same thing: it is still a piece of wax, even though the data of the senses inform him that all of its characteristics are different. Therefore, in order to properly grasp the nature of the wax, he cannot use the senses: he must use his mind. Descartes concludes:


"Thus what I thought I had seen with my eyes, I actually grasped solely with the faculty of judgment, which is in my mind."


In this manner Descartes proceeds to construct a system of knowledge, discarding perception as unreliable and instead admitting only deduction as a method. Halfway through the Meditations he also claims to prove the existence of a benevolent God, who, being benevolent, has provided him with a working mind and sensory system, and who cannot desire to deceive him, and thus, finally, he establishes the possibility of acquiring knowledge about the world based on deduction and perception. In psychology and the cognitive sciences, perception is the process of acquiring, interpreting, selecting, and organizing sensory information. ... There are several meanings for the word deduction: Natural deduction Deductive reasoning Deductions in terms of taxation, such as Itemized deductions Standard deduction See also: Logic Venn diagram Inductive reasoning Both statistics and the scientific method rely on both induction and deduction. ... The term God is used to designate a Supreme Being; however, there are other definitions of God. ... (See also sense) A sensory system is a part of the nervous system that consists of sensory receptors, neural pathways, and those parts of the brain responsible for processing the information. ...


Mathematicians consider Descartes of the utmost importance for his discovery of analytic geometry. Up to Descartes's times, geometry, dealing with lines and shapes, and algebra, dealing with numbers, appeared as completely different subsets of mathematics. Descartes showed how to translate many problems in geometry into problems in algebra, by using a coordinate system to describe the problem. Mathematics is the study of quantity, structure, space and change. ... Analytic geometry, also called coordinate geometry and earlier referred to as Cartesian geometry, is the study of geometry using the principles of algebra. ... Geometry (from the Greek words Ge = earth and metro = measure) is the branch of mathematics first introduced by Thales (circa 624-547 BC) dealing with spatial relationships. ... Algebra is a branch of mathematics which may be roughly characterized as a generalization and extension of arithmetic, in which symbols are employed to denote operations, and letters to represent number and quantity; it also refers to a particular kind of abstract algebra structure, the algebra over a field. ... Cartesian means relating to the French mathematician and philosopher Descartes, who, among other things, worked to merge algebra and Euclidean geometry. ...


Descartes's theory provided the basis for the calculus of Newton and Leibniz, and thus for much of modern mathematics. This appears even more astounding when one keeps in mind that the work was just meant as an example to his Discours de la méthode pour bien conduire sa raison, et chercher la verité dans les sciences (Discourse on the Method to Rightly Conduct the Reason and Search for the Truth in Sciences, known better under the shortened title Discours de la méthode). For other uses of the term calculus see calculus (disambiguation) Calculus is a central branch of mathematics, developed from algebra and geometry, and built on two major complementary ideas. ... Sir Isaac Newton in Knellers 1689 portrait Sir Isaac Newton (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1727 by the Julian calendar in use in England at the time; or 4 January 1643 – 31 March 1727 by the Gregorian calendar) was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, philosopher, and alchemist who wrote... Gottfried Leibniz Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (also Leibnitz) (Leipzig July 1 (June 21 O.S.), 1646 – November 14, 1716 in Hannover) was a German philosopher, scientist, mathematician, diplomat, librarian, and lawyer of Sorb descent. ... The Discourse on Method is a philosophical and mathematical treatise published by René Descartes in 1637. ...


Trivia

He was very fond of his dog, named Monsieur Grat. This is seen by some to contradict Descartes’ position that animals were simply (unthinking) automata made of meat.


Writings by Descartes

  • Discourse on Method (1637): an introduction to "Dioptrique', on the "Météores' and 'La Géométrie'; a work for the grand public, written in French.
  • La Géométrie (1637)
  • Meditations on First Philosophy (1641), also known as 'Metaphysic meditations', with a series of six objections. This work was written in Latin, language of the learned.
  • Les Principes de la philosophie, 1644, work rather destined for the students. The Singing Epitaph, 1646.

The Discourse on Method is a philosophical and mathematical treatise published by René Descartes in 1637. ... La Géométrie was published in 1637 and written by René Descartes. ... Meditations on First Philosophy (subtitled In which the existence of God and the real distinction of mind and body, are demonstrated), written by René Descartes (1596 - 1650) and first published in 1641, expands upon Descartes philosophical system, which he first introduced in his Discourse on Method (1637). ...

See also

In philosophy of mind, dualism is a set of beliefs which begin with the claim that the mental and the physical have a fundamentally different nature. ... Baruch Spinoza Benedictus de Spinoza (November 24, 1632 – February 21, 1677), named Baruch Spinoza by his synagogue elders and known as Bento de Spinoza or Bento dEspiñoza in the community in which he grew up. ... 3587 Descartes is a small main belt asteroid. ... In geometry, the defect of a vertex of a polyhedron is the amount by which the sum of the angles at the vertex falls short of a full circle. ...

External links

  • French French Audio Book (mp3) (http://www.incipitblog.com/index.php/2005/06/01/rene-descartes-discours-de-la-methode-1637/) : excerpt about animals/machines from Discourse On the Method
Wikiquote has a collection of quotations by or about:
René Descartes
Wikisource has original text related to this article:
René Descartes

 
 

COMMENTARY     


Share your thoughts, questions and commentary here
Your name
Your comments

Want to know more?
Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:

 


Press Releases |  Feeds | Contact
The Wikipedia article included on this page is licensed under the GFDL.
Images may be subject to relevant owners' copyright.
All other elements are (c) copyright NationMaster.com 2003-5. All Rights Reserved.
Usage implies agreement with terms, 1022, m