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Last edited by Christophe Pomès
September 6, 2013 | History

René Descartes

31 March 1596 - 11 February 1650

René Descartes, also known as Renatus Cartesius, was a French philosopher, mathematician, physicist, and writer who spent most of his adult life in the Dutch Republic. He has been dubbed the "Father of Modern Philosophy", and much of subsequent Western philosophy is a response to his writings, which continue to be 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 also apparent; the Cartesian coordinate system—allowing geometric shapes to be expressed in algebraic equations—was named after him. He is credited as the father of analytical geometry. Descartes was also one of the key figures in the Scientific Revolution.

Descartes frequently sets his views apart from those of his predecessors. In the opening section of the Passions of the Soul, a treatise on the Early Modern version of what are now commonly called emotions, Descartes goes so far as to assert that he will write on this topic "as if no one had written on these matters before". Many elements of his philosophy have precedents 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 analysis 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.1

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History Created April 1, 2008 · 7 revisions
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September 6, 2013 Edited by Christophe Pomès Added new photo
October 18, 2010 Edited by Alan Millar merge authors
June 2, 2010 Edited by Lance Arthur merge authors
June 2, 2010 Edited by Lance Arthur Add bio, fix dates
April 1, 2008 Created by an anonymous user initial import