René Descartes

Updated on: 19.08.2014




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Born: 31.03.1596 in Descartes, Indre-et-Loire, France
Passed away: 11.02.1650, Stockholm, Sweden


He has been dubbed the father of modern philosophy, and much subsequent Western philosophy is a response to his writings, which are studied closely to this day.

In particular, his Meditations on First Philosophy continues to be a standard text at most university philosophy departments. Descartes' influence in mathematics is equally apparent; the Cartesian coordinate system - allowing reference to a point in space as a set of numbers, and allowing algebraic equations to be expressed as geometric shapes in a two-dimensional coordinate system (and conversely, shapes to be described as equations) - was named after him.

He is credited as the father of analytical geometry, the bridge between algebra and geometry, crucial to the discovery of infinitesimal calculus and analysis. Descartes was also one of the key figures in the scientific revolution and has been described as an example of genius. He refused to accept the authority of previous philosophers and also refused to accept the obviousness of his own senses.

Education: University of Poitiers (1616), Prytanée National Militaire



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