He has been called the "Father of Modern Philosophy", and much of subsequent Western philosophy can be seen as a response to his writings. He is responsible for one of the best-known quotations in philosophy: He was a pioneer and major figure in 17th Century Continental Rationalism often known as Cartesianism later advocated by Baruch Spinoza and Gottfried Leibnizand opposed by the British Empiricist school of thought of HobbesLockeBerkeley and Hume. He represents a major break with the Aristotelianism and Scholasticism of the Medieval period.
Although not overtly political, the work of Descartes succeeded in redefining much of philosophical thought, to the extent that it would be more than fair to describe him as a revolutionary thinker. He wandered Europe and thanks to a combination of education, a sharp mind and an engaging personality, found few doors closed to him.
He socialised with beggars and aristocrats and was equally at home in the court of a prince as he was in a seedy dockside tavern. He joined the Dutch army to fight against the Spanish, and later fought alongside the Spanish on the side of the Holy Roman Empire in the 30 Years War.
Today we can speculate as to the cause of these visions and the radical shift they produced within him. Certainly they bear many of the hallmarks of post-traumatic stress and coming just two days after the bloody Battle of White Mountain in which 5, men died in close combat and many thousands more were maimed, it does not take a qualified psychoanalyst to link the events.
With no firm boundaries between the sciences and philosophy at the time, Descartes decided that he would sift through every field available to him and discover the unifying truths that lay beneath them all. He aimed to unite physics and mathematics, and while his philosophical treatises remain essential reading for any undergraduate in the subject, it is surely his development of the Cartesian co-ordinate system that has had the most lasting cultural impact.
Descartes established the standard notification for algebra we still use today and created the method by which algebra could be represented geometrically. Rarely has one man so completely revolutionised such an important field of study and it is genuinely difficult to overestimate the impact he has had on the subsequent evolution of Western civilisation.
Good sense is the most evenly shared thing in the world, for each of us thinks he is so well endowed with it that even those who are the hardest to please in all other respects are not in the habit of wanting more than they have.
And it is within the pages of Principles of Philosophy that we find not only his most famous line, but arguably the most famous line in the history of philosophical thought, I think, therefore I am. In Cartesian philosophy, all other knowledge must both rest upon and flow from that foundation; what Descartes saw as the Primary Truth.
But of course, the world has had more than years to digest the statement and it has been — along with all of Cartesian philosophy — robustly challenged in that time. Indeed, while modern philosophy acknowledges the great debt it owes to Descartes, his work has become almost an ancient artefact rather than a living part of the subject.
Now, I admit my own interpretation of Cartesian philosophy falls some way outside the mainstream, but I believe his present-day reduction to an historical footnote is due to a failure to appreciate just how radical his work truly was.
Despite the standard view of Cartesian dualism as a proposition about the strict separation of mind and body, I would argue that it is within the work of Descartes that we see the first steps towards a far more subtle relationship between the two and the advancement of a theory that actively undermined the prevailing dualistic view of the time.
Which is no wonder, for we also find within Discourse on Method the seeds of cultural relativism, a philosophy that remains radical and subversive in much of the world even today. He also discusses, probably for the first time, the interactions between the conscious and unconscious mind in a manner that provides an essential bridge between the earlier work of Plato and the later Freud.
None of which is meant to suggest that we cannot find plenty worthy of criticism within the life and work of Descartes. His justification of live vivisection hardly stands proudly alongside his other more enlightened views, for example.
But none of us can completely escape the values of our time and place. We are all, to a greater or lesser extent, captives of history. Descartes, however, did a better job than most at throwing off some of those bonds.Today, on the anniversary of his death in , we remember the life and work of French philosopher and mathematician, René Descartes.
Although not overtly political, the work of Descartes succeeded in redefining much of philosophical thought, to the extent that it would be more than fair to describe him as a revolutionary thinker. Life and Thought of René Descartes, founder of modern philosophy; criticism of Descartes.
RENE DESCARTES, PHILOSOPHER AND SCIENTIST. and he mentioned the dire word Pelagianism, in a context of stigma. The French philosopher sent a letter of complaint to the university, relating that he had wrongfully been .
Dec 18, · Descartes lived a very active life and was known for his travels and philosophical works. He eventually went to Stockholm, Sweden, in to act as the tutor to Queen Christina of Sweden. He remained a guest at the house of the French Ambassador during this time. 1.
Intellectual Biography Early life and education. Descartes was born on 31 March in his maternal grandmother's house in La Haye, in the Touraine region of France.
R ené Descartes, (born March 31, , La Haye, Touraine, France—died February 11, , Stockholm, Sweden), French mathematician, scientist, and philosopher..
Because he was one of the first to abandon scholastic Aristotelianism, because he formulated the first modern version of mind-body dualism, from which stems the mind-body problem, and because he promoted the development of a .
Oct 02, · René Descartes was a French mathematician and philosopher during the 17th century. He is often considered a precursor to the rationalist school of thought, and his vast contributions to the fields of mathematics and philosophy, individually as well as holistically, helped pushed Western knowledge forward during the scientific revolution.