Saturday, February 27, 2010


DESCARTES, Rene (1596-1650). Both modern philosophy and modern mathematics began with the work of Rene Descartes. His analytic method of thinking focused attention on the problem of how we know, which has occupied philosophers ever since. His invention of coordinate geometry prepared the way for advances in mathematics. Descartes offered one of the first modern theories to account for the origin of the solar system of the Earth.

Rene Descartes was born on March 31, 1596, at La Haye in the Touraine region of France. At the Jesuit school of La Fleche, Rene was taught philosophy, the humanities, science, and mathematics. After getting a law degree at the University of Poitiers in 1616, he served as a volunteer in Dutch and Bavarian armies to broaden his experience. He resumed his study of mathematics and science when his duties permitted. Dissatisfied with the haphazard methods of science then in use, he began to doubt all but mathematical knowledge.

In 1619 Descartes arrived at the conclusion that the universe has a mathematically logical structure and that a single method of reasoning could apply to all natural sciences, providing a unified body of knowledge. He believed he had discovered such a method by breaking a problem down into parts, accepting as true only clear, distinct ideas that could not be doubted, and systematically deducing one conclusion from another

Descartes soon gave up army life. Living on private means, he spent several years travel ing and applying his analytical system to mathematics and science. Finding, however, that the sciences rested on disputed philosophical ideas, he determined to discover a first principle, which could not be doubted, on which to build knowledge. Retiring to seclusion in Holland in 1629, he methodically doubted all accepted traditions and evidence about the universe and mankind. He could not doubt the statement "I think, therefore I am," and thus his first principle was established.

Descartes's major writings on methodology and philosophy were his 'Discourse on Method' (published in 1637) and 'Meditations' (1641). His application of algebra to geometry appeared in his 'Geometry' (1637). He also published works on his studies in natural science.

Descartes's work brought him both fame and controversy. In 1649 he was invited to teach philosophy to the queen of Sweden. He became ill and died in Stockholm on Feb. 11, 1650.

The SculPTor

Ultimate Reality's First Cause should be ~ "I think I think, therefore I am not"!