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Rene Descartes

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Rene Descartes is known as the famous French philosopher, scientist, and mathematician. He was born in La Haye (now Descartes), Tourine, France in 1596. While his family was not exactly the wealthiest people, they had produced a number of educated men. At the age of eight, he was enrolled in the Jesuit school of La Fleche in Anjou, where he continued for eight years. Besides the usual studies, he practiced mathematics and philosophy. When he graduated from school, he studied law at the University of Poitiers, graduating in 1616. However, he never practiced law; he enrolled in the service of Prince Maurice of Nassau, leader of the United Provinces of the Netherlands. Descartes aspired to live a military life. Nonetheless, he found himself engrossed with the world of mathematics and philosophy. Because of his intense fascination with these two studies, he decided to devote the rest of his life to them.

Descartes made a pilgrimage to Italy from 1623 to 1624 and spent the years 1624 to 1628 in France. During his stay in France, he devoted his time to the study of philosophy and also experimented in the science of optics. In 1628, Descartes sold his belongings and moved to the Netherlands, where he spent most of the rest of his life. Throughout his stay, he also lived in Amsterdam, Deventer, Utrecht, and Leiden.

Descartes first major work was Essais philosophoqies (Philosophical Essays), published in 1637. It consisted of four parts: an essay on geometry, another on optics, a third of meteors, and Discours de la methode (Discourse on Method.) He wrote numerous other works, including Principia Philosophiae (The Principles of Philosophy) and The Passions of the Soul. Sadly, Descartes died on February 11, 1650 of pneumonia.

Descartes made an effort to apply the rational inductive methods of mathematics to philosophy. Before his time, the method of Scholasticism ruled philosophy. Refusing this method, he stated,

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