Rene Descartes

René Descartes is often known as the “Father of modern philosophy” . This title is justified both by its break with the usual scholastic-Aristotelian philosophy that stood out in its time and by its development and promotion of the new mechanistic sciences . His fundamental break with scholastic philosophy was twofold. First, Descartes thought that the method of the scholastics was prone to doubt given its dependence on sensation as the source of all knowledge. Second, he wanted to replace his final causal model of scientific explanation with the more modern and mechanistic model .

  • When was he born:  03/31/1596
  • Where he was born:  Descartes, France
  • When he died:  02/11/1650
  • Where he died:  Stockholm, Sweden

Who was René Descartes?

René Descartes was a French-born philosopher , scientist and mathematician who studied scholasticism to try to orient human reason and understand Christian doctrine , influenced by Catholicism.

Over time, Descartes discovers that ” I exist ” is impossible to doubt and is therefore absolutely true. It is from this point that René Descartes proceeds to demonstrate the existence of God and to think that God cannot be a deceiver. This, in turn, serves to fix the certainty of all that is clearly and distinctly understood and provides the epistemological basis that Descartes set out to find.

  • Biography of René Descartes
  • Death
  • Thought of René Descartes
  • Rationalism
  • Discoveries
  • Contributions of René Descartes
  • Scientific method
  • Plays
  • Quotes by René Descartes

Biography of René Descartes

René Descartes, son of Joachim Descartes and Jeanne Brochard, was born on March 31, 1596 in La Haye, France , near Tours. He was the youngest of the couple’s three surviving children. They came from a bourgeois family that was made up mainly of doctors and some lawyers. Joachim Descartes fell into the latter category and spent most of his career as a member of the provincial parliament.

At La Fleche, he completed courses in grammar, rhetoric, and philosophical curriculum, courses in grammar, rhetoric, and dialectics, and mathematical arts consisting of arithmetic, music, and geometry, and astronomy. He also studied metaphysics , natural philosophy, and ethics.

In 1618, Descartes went to Holland to become a volunteer in the army of Maurice of Nassau and there he met Isaac Beekman, who was the influence and who rekindled Descartes’ interest in science and opened his eyes to the possibility of applying mathematical techniques to other fields. Already in 1624 he moved to France, where he devoted himself completely to philosophy and to carry out optical experiments.


In 1649 he was invited to the court of Cristina of Sweden in Stockholm so that the queen could receive philosophy classes from him . Cristina wanted René Descartes to teach her philosophy starting at five in the morning, and for this she used a large and cold place. Descartes, who was not used to the cold and also had a lot of education to complain about the environment, continued to teach him there. After three months of these waking up at dawn and enduring the temperature, he became seriously ill and died on February 11, 1650 from a serious respiratory disease , which apparently was pneumonia . Seventeen years later, his body was taken to Paris, where he was buried.

Thought of René Descartes

His philosophy was known by the name of Cartesianism and this led him to elaborate complex and erroneous explanations of physical phenomena. He was very close to the theory of Copernicus about the universe, and had the idea of a system of planets that revolved moving around the sun . However, he renounced this theory when it was considered heretical by the Catholic Church. Then, he began to think of a doctrine known as the doctrine of vortices or whirlpools of ethereal matter , in which space was full of matter , in different ways.states , and turning on the sun .


It was a philosophical current that occurred in Europe and that was formulated by Descartes . It emphasizes reason as the main element in the acquisition of knowledge . It is identified with philosophy and Descartes claimed that only through reason could universal truths be discovered and that, from there, the contents of philosophy and science could be constructed . The source of knowledge is always reason and for this reason, Descartes tried to give it a scientific method , considering that mathematics was an exact and safe science.


He realized the importance of using the letters of the alphabet to represent quantities that were unknown. He invented the method of exponents to indicate the powers that the numbers had. He also formulated the Cartesian rule of signs

Contributions of René Descartes

The most important contribution of Descartes was in the area of ​​mathematics and he did so thanks to the systematization of analytical geometry . He classified the curves according to the type of equation that produced them and developed the theory of equations .

Scientific method

René Descartes considered that the scientific method should be unique in its science rules , that it was a method that could give unity as a universal science. His method expresses human reason and how it is structured and how it is then applied to true knowledge of objects. It is based on universal science and its core is rationalism . He considered that only in the area of mathematics could be found true and evident proofs, which is why his need arises to create a universal mathematics.


  • In 1628 he wrote his work entitled ” Philosophical Essays ” which were published in 1637. This work is composed of four parts: an essay on geometry , another on optics , one on meteors and the last, the Discourse on method , in which he described his philosophical thoughts .
  • His work ” Metaphysical Meditations ” was written in the year 1641.
  • The principles of philosophy in 1644, and was dedicated to Princess Elizabeth Stuart of Bohemia.
  • The world or treatise on light
  • Discourse of the method
  • Metaphysical meditations
  • The search for truth through natural reason
  • Philosophy principles
  • The passions of the soul

Quotes by René Descartes

Here are the most famous phrases by René Descartes:

  • I’d give everything I know for half of what I don’t know.
  • Feeling is nothing other than thinking.
  • I think and doubt, therefore I exist.
  • There is hardly anything said by one whose opposite is not affirmed.
  • Bad books make bad habits and bad habits make good books.

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