Rene Descartes was very well-known philosopher. Importantly known for his way of distinguishing from being what is reality and what is not. The Latin phrase “Cogito, ergo sum” or “I think therefor I am” is a quote that directly correlates between Descartes new modern form of philosophy and Descartes wanting to disprove the Aristotelian and Scholastic ways of philosophy.
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Rene is known as “The Father of Modern Philosophy” because he is thought to have planted the seed for a new form of thinking and theories in philosophy, ridding of the old way. Descartes released several works and writings throughout his career and lifetime, proving and disproving many points and theories. Including a recant of his old ways and direct shots of disapproval to old mentors and professors. Descartes was not afraid to voice his opinions and beliefs and speak up for himself. He made many people upset such as old professors and other philosophers whom still study the Aristotelian way, with his new modern form of philosophy. This new way allowed several other philosophers to pave their own road in philosophy and allowed them to speak on behalf of what they believe in.
Rene Descartes was born March 31, 1596 to father, Jochaim Descartes, and mother, Jeanne Brochard, information gathered from author Justin Skirry of Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. He was born in a city called La Hayce in France. The Descartes family was mainly made up of doctors and lawyers, as well as a member of the provincial parliament, which his father filled the position of for a short time. Rene’s father remarried shortly after the death of Jeanne and sent his kids away. At this time, Rene and his siblings were sent to live with their grandmother. During this transitional phase in his life, he was to be considered a “very sickly and fragail” stated Skirry. In 1607, while attending Jesuit University in Le Fleche, France, he was not made to wake up at five in the morning with the other kids for morning mass, but instead was allowed to sleep in until ten in the morning to reassure his well-being.
Education was not a necessity in life but Rene was grateful to have the opportunity to receive one. At Jesuit University, Descartes attended a very intense education on the liberal arts, focusing on the philosophy curriculum. He studied classes such as . “grammar and rhetoric and the philosophical curriculum with courses in the “verbal arts” of grammar, rhetoric and dialectic (or logic) and the “mathematical arts” comprised of arithmetic, music, geometry and astronomy”, listed Justin Skirry. All of those classes played a very important role towards Rene’s theories and writings later in his life and career. Soon after Jesuit’s education system, Rene obtains a degree and license in civil and cannon law between the years 1615-1616. Directly following his education, he volunteers to join the army of Maurice of Nassau. There in the army, he meets his friend Issac Beekman, whom becomes “Rene’s greatest influence” according to Skirry, for his writings on philosophy. Issac ignited the flame to get Rene to start studying science and the idea to apply mathematics to other fields of interests and ideas. The year 1619, Rene started serious work on math and mechanical problems with Beekman’s supervision. Both left the army to join the Army of Maxamilion of Bavaria. During this time Descartes is thought to have had a mental breakdown and is said to have had three dreams on how to create a new method for scientific inquiry.
The importance of Rene Descartes comes from the three main fields he played a large part in. First, was being a mathematician where he developed the techniques that made algebraic geometry. Rene is also that cofounder of the for the sine law of refraction, he discovered why a rainbow happens and the properties of refracting light through water. As a philosopher, he focused on the formation of our planets using his knowledge from his astronomy education, speaking of the idea of a heliocentric universe, or that the sun is the center of our universe, something that Galileo was sentenced to house arrest for, which Descartes suppressed the book idea and chose not to publish it.
Lastly, he formulated the modern body-mind problem. This is where the mind has total control over the body and that the mind is distinct from matter, but could influence matter. Furthermore, the immaterial mind interacts with the material body while being distinctly different substances, which then interact seamlessly. “The intractability of mind-body illustrates the limits of our explanatory success to date”, Desmond M. Clarke explained further in his article “Descarte’s Theory of Mind”. Descartes could only truly believe in doubt. Where the phrase “Cogito, ergo sum” or “I think therefore I am” comes into play, arguably one of the most famous quotes of philosophy of all time. This saying is a reflection on what he believes is demons who are only part of life experience to deceive and trick him. Along this line of thinking, Descarte’s also argued about the purpose of God, if he is a “deceptive God or an evil deceiver”, Gary Hatfield wrote in the Standford Encylopedia of Philosophy. Since his sensations can be fooled, he says he has no reason to believe in the findings of science, the world itself or that his body even exists. Stating that there’s is no way determining if reality is real, besides if he is thinking then reality is real. That phrase also is relevant in biology while studying the conscious mind and mental illnesses.
Descartes is credited for starting the idea that rationalism and doubt assured one that there was important knowledge and information that can be obtained without the senses through reason. Rene Descartes wrote ˆDisclosure” as an introduction to three other essays, Optics, Meteorology, and Geometry. Which all further exemplify the ideas presented by dualism, rationalism and that the human mind is separate from the body, that the mind will outlive the body. He later wrote Meditations which would soon alter the way people thought and viewed their own mind. It soon became known as the ‘Cartesian Circle’ because the logic behind the idea would loop and overlap with itself.
Rene Descartes wanted to disprove and discredit the old way of philosophy and so he created his own. Defying the church by saying that Aristotle’s theory can be discredited, and the sun is the center of our universe made Descartes gain followers and fellow philosophers soon followed in his steps. Descartes broke away from traditional ways by firstly stating that some forms of physics were just plain wrong and can be proven otherwise, making people angry like his old professor at Jesuit University. He stated that humans are “immaterial principle of material organization that resulted in a particular thing of a certain kind.” Stated Gary Hatfield. The main idea was solely the main purpose or function of that said thing.
Rene Descartes is considered an important person in the means of philosophy because he opened the door for a new general form of philosophy. With his background in mathematics, astronomy and philosophy, the knowledge helped him create and fabricate his new beliefs. Descartes’s actions allowed other philosophers to follow close in his footsteps for them to speak their own mind in terms of philosophy and new beliefs. Descartes became famous for the Latin phrase, “Cogito ergo sum” or “I think therefor I am”, which means that if one can think it means it is reality and there can be no doubt. That phrase proves his theory is real, that one can be deceived but only the thought can distinguish the doubts.
Clarke, Desmond. “Descartes’s Theory of Mind.” Oxford Scholarship, Oxford University Press, 7 Nov. 2014, www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/0199261237.001.0001/acprof-9780199261239.
Hatfield, Gary. “René Descartes.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, 16 Jan. 2014, plato.stanford.edu/entries/descartes/#TheSenPer.
Skirry, Justin. “René Descartes.” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, www.iep.utm.edu/descarte/.
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