89 Facts About Descartes


Descartes spent much of his working life in the Dutch Republic, initially serving the Dutch States Army, later becoming a central intellectual of the Dutch Golden Age.

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Descartes has often been called the father of modern philosophy, and is largely seen as responsible for the increased attention given to epistemology in the 17th century.

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Descartes laid the foundation for 17th-century continental rationalism, later advocated by Spinoza and Leibniz, and was later opposed by the empiricist school of thought consisting of Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume.

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Leibniz, Spinoza, and Descartes were all well-versed in mathematics as well as philosophy, and Descartes and Leibniz contributed greatly to science as well.

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Descartes is credited as the father of analytic geometry—used in the discovery of infinitesimal calculus and analysis.

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Descartes was one of the key figures in the Scientific Revolution.

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Descartes' father, Joachim, was a member of the Parlement of Brittany at Rennes.

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Descartes, therefore, received much encouragement in Breda to advance his knowledge of mathematics.

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However, it is speculated that what Descartes considered to be his second dream was actually an episode of exploding head syndrome.

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Descartes concluded from these visions that the pursuit of science would prove to be, for him, the pursuit of true wisdom and a central part of his life's work.

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Descartes saw very clearly that all truths were linked with one another, so that finding a fundamental truth and proceeding with logic would open the way to all science.

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Descartes visited Basilica della Santa Casa in Loreto, then visited various countries before returning to France, and during the next few years, he spent time in Paris.

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Descartes arrived in La Haye in 1623, selling all of his property to invest in bonds, which provided a comfortable income for the rest of his life.

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Descartes was present at the siege of La Rochelle by Cardinal Richelieu in 1627.

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Descartes studied both mathematics with Jacobus Golius, who confronted him with Pappus's hexagon theorem, and astronomy with Martin Hortensius.

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Descartes's was baptized a Protestant and died of scarlet fever at the age of 5.

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Unlike many moralists of the time, Descartes did not deprecate the passions but rather defended them; he wept upon Francine's death in 1640.

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In 1633, Galileo was condemned by the Italian Inquisition, and Descartes abandoned plans to publish Treatise on the World, his work of the previous four years.

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In La Geometrie, Descartes exploited the discoveries he made with Pierre de Fermat, having been able to do so because his paper, Introduction to Loci, was published posthumously in 1679.

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Descartes continued to publish works concerning both mathematics and philosophy for the rest of his life.

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In 1643, Cartesian philosophy was condemned at the University of Utrecht, and Descartes was obliged to flee to the Hague, settling in Egmond-Binnen.

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Descartes became friendly with Anthony Studler van Zurck, lord of Bergen and participated in the design of his mansion and estate.

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Descartes met Dirck Rembrantsz van Nierop, a mathematician and surveyor.

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Descartes was so impressed by Van Nierop's knowledge that he even brought him to the attention of Constantijn Huygens and Frans van Schooten.

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Descartes began a six-year correspondence with Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia, devoted mainly to moral and psychological subjects.

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Descartes identifies four ordinary sources to reach wisdom and finally says that there is a fifth, better and more secure, consisting in the search for first causes.

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Descartes accepted, and moved to Sweden in the middle of winter.

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Descartes's was interested in and stimulated Descartes to publish The Passions of the Soul.

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Descartes was a guest at the house of Pierre Chanut, living on Vasterlanggatan, less than 500 meters from Tre Kronor in Stockholm.

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Descartes arranged to give lessons to Queen Christina after her birthday, three times a week at 5 am, in her cold and draughty castle.

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Pies has questioned this account, based on a letter by the Doctor van Wullen; however, Descartes had refused his treatment, and more arguments against its veracity have been raised since.

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Descartes's skull is on display in the Musee de l'Homme in Paris.

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Descartes built his ideas from scratch which he does in The Meditations on First Philosophy.

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Descartes relates this to architecture: the top soil is taken away to create a new building or structure.

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Descartes calls his doubt the soil and new knowledge the buildings.

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Descartes concluded, if he doubted, then something or someone must be doing the doubting; therefore, the very fact that he doubted proved his existence.

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Descartes concludes that he can be certain that he exists because he thinks.

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Descartes defines "thought" as "what happens in me such that I am immediately conscious of it, insofar as I am conscious of it".

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Descartes gave reasons for thinking that waking thoughts are distinguishable from dreams, and that one's mind cannot have been "hijacked" by an evil demon placing an illusory external world before one's senses.

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Descartes, influenced by the automatons on display throughout the city of Paris, began to investigate the connection between the mind and body, and how the two interact.

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In Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes attempted to demonstrate the existence of God and the distinction between the human soul and the body.

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Humans are a union of mind and body; thus Descartes's dualism embraced the idea that mind and body are distinct but closely joined.

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Descartes employed the concept of modes, which are the ways in which substances exist.

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In Principles of Philosophy, Descartes explained, "we can clearly perceive a substance apart from the mode which we say differs from it, whereas we cannot, conversely, understand the mode apart from the substance".

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Descartes argued that the great differences between body and mind make the two ontologically distinct.

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The Aristotelian philosophy of Descartes' days held that the universe was inherently purposeful or teleological.

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Descartes' dualism provided the philosophical rationale for the latter by expelling the final cause from the physical universe in favor of the mind .

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Descartes gave priority to the mind and argued that the mind could exist without the body, but the body could not exist without the mind.

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Descartes was a rationalist and believed in the power of innate ideas.

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Descartes argued the theory of innate knowledge and that all humans were born with knowledge through the higher power of God.

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Descartes distinguished six basic passions: wonder, love, hatred, desire, joy and sadness.

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Descartes argued, for example, that fear is a passion that moves the soul to generate a response in the body.

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Descartes argued that signals passed from the ear and the eye to the pineal gland, through animal spirits.

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Descartes argued that these motions in the pineal gland are based on God's will and that humans are supposed to want and like things that are useful to them.

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Descartes argued that external motions, such as touch and sound, reach the endings of the nerves and affect the animal spirits.

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Descartes challenged the views of his contemporaries that the soul was divine, thus religious authorities regarded his books as dangerous.

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Descartes' writings went on to form the basis for theories on emotions and how cognitive evaluations were translated into affective processes.

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Descartes believed that the brain resembled a working machine and unlike many of his contemporaries, he believed that mathematics and mechanics could explain the most complicated processes of the mind.

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Descartes, ethics was a science, the highest and most perfect of them.

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Descartes discussed this subject in the correspondence with Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia, and as a result wrote his work The Passions of the Soul, that contains a study of the psychosomatic processes and reactions in man, with an emphasis on emotions or passions.

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Humans should seek the sovereign good that Descartes, following Zeno, identifies with virtue, as this produces blessedness.

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For Epicurus, the sovereign good was pleasure, and Descartes says that, in fact, this is not in contradiction with Zeno's teaching, because virtue produces a spiritual pleasure, that is better than bodily pleasure.

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The moral writings of Descartes came at the last part of his life, but earlier, in his Discourse on the Method, he adopted three maxims to be able to act while he put all his ideas into doubt.

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From this supposition Descartes finally establishes the possibility of acquiring knowledge about the world based on deduction and perception.

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Descartes was very much aware that experimentation was necessary to verify and validate theories.

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Descartes invokes his causal adequacy principle to support his trademark argument for the existence of God, quoting Lucretius in defence: "Ex nihilo nihil fit", meaning "Nothing comes from nothing" .

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Descartes considered himself to be a devout Catholic, and one of the purposes of the Meditations was to defend the Catholic faith.

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Descartes argues that sensory perceptions come to him involuntarily, and are not willed by him.

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Descartes goes on to show that the things in the external world are material by arguing that God would not deceive him as to the ideas that are being transmitted, and that God has given him the "propensity" to believe that such ideas are caused by material things.

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Descartes believes a substance is something that does not need any assistance to function or exist.

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Descartes further explains how only God can be a true "substance".

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Descartes steered clear of theological questions, restricting his attention to showing that there is no incompatibility between his metaphysics and theological orthodoxy.

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Descartes is often regarded as the first thinker to emphasize the use of reason to develop the natural sciences.

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Descartes argued that animals did not lack sensations or perceptions, but these could be explained mechanistically.

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Descartes has often been dubbed the father of modern Western philosophy, the thinker whose approach has profoundly changed the course of Western philosophy and set the basis for modernity.

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One of Descartes's most enduring legacies was his development of Cartesian or analytic geometry, which uses algebra to describe geometry.

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Descartes "invented the convention of representing unknowns in equations by x, y, and z, and knowns by a, b, and c".

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Descartes "pioneered the standard notation" that uses superscripts to show the powers or exponents; for example, the 2 used in x to indicate x squared.

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Descartes was first to assign a fundamental place for algebra in the system of knowledge, using it as a method to automate or mechanize reasoning, particularly about abstract, unknown quantities.

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Descartes professed that the abstract quantity a could represent length as well as an area.

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Descartes's work provided the basis for the calculus developed by Newton and Leibniz, who applied the infinitesimal calculus to the tangent line problem, thus permitting the evolution of that branch of modern mathematics.

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Descartes's rule of signs is a commonly used method to determine the number of positive and negative roots of a polynomial.

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Descartes discovered an early form of the law of conservation of momentum, and envisioned it as pertaining to motion in a straight line, as opposed to perfect circular motion, as Galileo had envisioned it.

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Descartes outlined his views on the universe in his Principles of Philosophy, where he describes his three laws of motion.

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Descartes independently discovered the law of reflection, and his essay on optics was the first published mention of this law.

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Current popular opinion holds that Descartes had the most influence of anyone on the young Isaac Newton, and this is arguably one of his most important contributions.

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Furthermore, in 1619 Descartes moved to Ulm which was a well renowned international center of the Rosicrucian movement.

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In January 2010, a previously unknown letter from Descartes, dated 27 May 1641, was found by the Dutch philosopher Erik-Jan Bos when browsing through Google.

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Descartes work has been used, in fact to inaugurates an entirely new kind of philosophy.

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