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
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
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
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
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.