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René DescartesFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaJump to: navigation, search
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Portrait after Frans Hals, 1648.
Full name René Descartes
Born 31March 1596(1596-03-31)
La Haye en Touraine, Touraine (present-day Descartes, Indre-et-Loire), France
Died 11 February 1650(1650-02-11) (aged 53)
Era 17th-century philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Cartesianism, Rationalism, Foundationalism
Main interests Metaphysics, Epistemology, Mathematics
Notable ideas Cogito ergo sum, method of doubt, Cartesian coordinatesystem, Cartesian dualism, ontological argument for the existence of Christian God; Folium of Descartes
Influenced by[show]Plato, Aristotle, Alhazen, Ghazali, Averroes, Avicenna, Anselm, St. Augustine, Aquinas, Ockham, Suarez, Mersenne, Sextus Empiricus, Michel de Montaigne, Duns Scotus
Influenced[show]Most philosophers after him including: Spinoza, Hobbes, Arnauld,Malebranche, Pascal, Locke, Leibniz, More, Kant, Husserl, Brunschvicg, Žižek, Chomsky, Stanley, Dirck Rembrantsz van Nierop, Durkheim
Part of a series on
Cartesianism · Rationalism
Doubt and certainty
Cogito ergo sum
Cartesian circle · FoliumRule of signs · Cartesian diver
Discourse on the Method
Meditations on First Philosophy
Principles of Philosophy
Passions of the Soul
Christina of Sweden
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René Descartes (French pronunciation: [ʁəne dekaʁt]; (31 March 1596 – 11 February 1650) (Latinized form: Renatus Cartesius;adjectival form: "Cartesian") was a French philosopher and writer who spent most of his adult life in the Dutch Republic. He has been dubbed the 'Father of Modern Philosophy', and much subsequent Western philosophy is a response to his writings, which are studied closely to this day. In particular, his Meditations on First Philosophy continues to be a standard text at most university philosophydepartments. Descartes' influence in mathematics is equally apparent; the Cartesian coordinate system—allowing geometric shapes to be expressed in algebraic equations—was named after him. He is credited as the father of analytical geometry. Descartes was also one of the key figures in the Scientific Revolution.
Descartes frequently sets his views apart from those of his predecessors. In theopening section of the Passions of the Soul, a treatise on the Early Modern version of what are now commonly called emotions, Descartes goes so far as to assert that he will write on this topic "as if no one had written on these matters before". Many elements of his philosophy have precedents in late Aristotelianism, the revived Stoicism of the 16th century, or in earlier philosophers like St.Augustine. In his natural philosophy, he differs from the Schools on two major points: First, he rejects the analysis of corporeal substance into matter and form; second, he rejects any appeal to ends—divine or natural—in explaining natural phenomena. In his theology, he insists on the absolute freedom of God’s act of creation.
Descartes was a major figure in 17th-century continental rationalism,later advocated by Baruch Spinoza and Gottfried Leibniz, and opposed by the empiricist school of thought consisting of Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Hume.
Leibniz, Spinoza and Descartes were all well versed in mathematics as well as philosophy, and Descartes and Leibniz contributed greatly to science as well. As the inventor of the Cartesian coordinate system, Descartes...