René Descartes

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René Descartes

René Descartes. Portrait by Frans Hals, 1648.
Full name René Descartes
Era 17th-century philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Cartesianism, Rationalism, Foundationalism
Main interests Metaphysics, Epistemology, Science, Mathematics
Notable ideas Cogito ergo sum, Methodic Doubt, Cartesian coordinate system, Cartesian dualism, ontological argument for existence of God; regarded as a founder of Modern philosophy

René Descartes (31 March 1596 – 11 February 1650) was a famous French philosopher and physicist. He wrote books that are very important in the fields of maths, physics and especially philosophy. His dualism statement combined soul, mind, body theories, elements into one concept; a dualistic theory of mind and matter.

Descartes and physics (the study of the world)[change | change source]

In his Rules for the Direction of the Mind (1628) and his Discourse on Method (1637) Descartes wrote about the scientific method that deals with scientific approach, thinking, a method which he had invented. He also wrote about shapes (Geometry), light (Dioptrics), and the weather (Meteorology). He then came up with a way of describing shapes now known as the Cartesian coordinate system, and a theory of what a rainbow is. Descartes' physics was important for a later famous thinker, Sir Isaac Newton, who said about him and so did James Hook: "If I have seen further it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants!"

Descartes and philosophy (the study of abstract ideas)[change | change source]