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Rene Descartes as a Prominent Philosopher and Scientist

Rene Descartes is a famous French philosopher, scientist and mathematician. Descartes believed in rational origin of the world and used rational methods of science in order to study this world. Even nowadays his ideas and thinking are of great influence upon modern philosophers and scientists. His name is also closely connected with the notion of Scientific Revolution in the Western World. Protestant Reformation and the Skeptical Crisis were not less important historical events, contributing to development of his philosophical views.
Locke, Descartes and Hobbes projected the way of reason, counted on observation and scientific experiment. They were among the most famous carriers of scientific thought of the Eighteenth century. They counted on mere facts and reasons in their scientific quest.
Descartes was born at La Haye, which is now called Descartes. From 1606 to 1614 he studied at the Jesuit College in La Fleche. Mathematics has always been his favourite subject and all the rest of the subjects taught at college he called useless. In the year of 1618 Descartes joined army of Prince Maurice of Nassau in Holland. Soon the army moved to Germany. One event had great influence on Descartes’ life and way of thinking. During some period he saw dreams, saying about his future occupation. Interpreting these dreams Descartes decided that his main purpose was to create a universal science. All his future life he dedicated to creation of this universal science. Isaac Beeckaman, a famous mathematician, had great influence on the becoming of Descartes as a prominent scientists. Descartes wrote his work in 1628 and there he described a scientific method of research, which had great influence on the development of all sciences. The work was not published until 1701.
Descartes spent much time studying ancient mathematics. Studying all discoveries made through the human history Descartes underlines the importance to find the method, used to make these discoveries. He was absolutely convinced that discovery of the right scientific method was the key factor for scientific progress. In 1628 Descartes moved to Paris. In Paris he became famous after his debate with Chandoux, who reflected ideas of Renaissance scepticism. This system was based on the assumption that knowledge could be only probable and there were no methods to achieve a certain one. Descartes attacked this scepticism and insisted that only certainty could be regarded as a basis for any science. After some time spent in France, Descartes returned to Holland, where he spent the rest of his life. In Holland Descartes wrote a scientific work called The World, which was not published at once because it contained Copernican ideas, condemned by the Church. In 1638 Descartes published special scientific book called the Discourse on Method. In 1641 he published another book called Mediations on First Philosophy. This work contain rather metaphysical than scientific reflections on the nature of science. In 1644 Descartes published another work called The Principles of Philosophy, which contained core assumptions of Descartes’ philosophy, inducing Cartesian system.
Descartes did his best to explain physical phenomenon using mathematics, but his explanation of living creatures was not complete. His Meditations served the basis for this investigation. The mathematical nature of physical bodies can be seen through separate perceptions. Thus the key point in the Cartesian science was motion. Descartes was talking about the laws of motion in his work Principles of Philosophy, these laws according to Descartes were decrees of God and human bodies were to follow them. In 1648 Descartes published his Notes Against a Program as response to Henricus Regius’ pamphlet. His last work called Passions of the Soul Descartes published in 1649. This work consists of small pieces of writing on the themes of ethics, physiology and physiology. Descartes died in Stockholm, Sweden when visiting and teaching Sweden Queen Christina.
Rene Descartes tried to combine science with other branches of human existence. He made attempts to apply scientific method for religion and prove the existence of God. It became one of the first attempts to join religion and science. This became a principally new approach to both, science and religion. This new revolutionary branch was called natural philosophy. It didn’t reject Christian believes and achievements of culture but counted on rational examination and evidence. Descartes used mathematical methods to deal with everything in the Universe. He believed that our Universe was created as a huge machine and principles of its creation reflected that all the world was governed by Ultimate Rationalism. Rationality of everything, which exists in the world, let Descartes believe that everything in the Universe could be explained rationally. One of the most prominent philosophers of his is time, Descartes stressed the necessity of mental cognition of the world.


1. Cottingham, John. ed. (1992) The Cambrigde Companion to Descartes, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
2. Doney, Willis. (1967) Descartes: A Collection of Critical Essays, Doubleday, New York.
3. Rorty, A. O. (1986) Essays on Descartes' Meditations, University of California Press, Berkeley.


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