Discourse on Method HTML version

About Descartes:
René Descartes (March 31, 1596 – February 11, 1650), also known as
Renatus Cartesius (latinized form), was a highly influential French philo-
sopher, mathematician, scientist, and writer. Dubbed the "Founder of
Modern Philosophy", and the "Father of Modern Mathematics", much of
subsequent western philosophy is a reaction to his writings, which have
been closely studied from his time down to the present day. His influ-
ence in mathematics is also apparent, the Cartesian coordinate system
being used in plane geometry and algebra being named after him, and
he was one of the key figures in the Scientific Revolution. Descartes fre-
quently contrasted his views with those of his predecessors. In the open-
ing section of the Passions of the Soul, a treatise on the Early Modern
version of what are now commonly called emotions, he goes so far as to
assert that he will write on his topic "as if no one had written on these
matters before". Nevertheless many elements of his philosophy have pre-
cedents 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 ana-
lysis 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, Berke-
ley, and Hume. Leibniz, Spinoza and Descartes were all versed in math-
ematics as well as philosophy, and Descartes and Leibniz contributed
greatly to science as well. As the inventor of the Cartesian coordinate
system, Descartes founded analytic geometry, that bridge between al-
gebra and geometry crucial to the invention of calculus and analysis.
Descartes's reflections on mind and mechanism began the strain of west-
ern thought that much later, impelled by the invention of the electronic
computer and by the possibility of machine intelligence, blossomed into,
e.g., the Turing test. His most famous statement is: Cogito ergo sum
(French: Je pense, donc je suis; English: I think, therefore I am), found in
§7 of part I of Principles of Philosophy (Latin) and in part IV of Dis-
course on the Method (French). Source: Wikipedia
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