Biography of Descartes, father of modern philosophy

Biography of Descartes, father of modern philosophy

Rene Descartes is considered today as the father of modern philosophy. His participation in all fields, be it philosophy, physics, mathematics or medicine, was vital for their development during the centuries to come. His theories would shape what has come to be known as "mechanism"And his work" The Discourse of the method ", lay the foundation for modern scientific research.

He was born on March 31, 1596 in Touraine into a family belonging to the lower nobility. The untimely death of his mother made young Descartes wonder all kinds of questions about life. At the age of eleven, he entered the Collège Henri IV de La Flèche, a Jesuit school in which he stood out especially thanks to his precocious intellectual gifts and in which he learned physics, scholastic philosophy and mathematics.

With 18 years of age, Discards He entered the University of Poitiers, where he studied Law and Medicine. After completing his studies, he moved to Holland in 1618 and enlisted as a volunteer in various armies. It was a stage in which the young Frenchman showed great interest in the war but ended up giving up military life and dedicated himself to touring Europe.

Although at first he was residing in Paris, the truth is that his desire for adventure and the desire to avoid difficulties with the authorities as a result of possible controversial publications, led Descartes to change his residence to the Netherlands in 1628, where he remained nearby 20 years. He only abandoned it when Queen Cristina of Sweden invited him to Stockholm in 1649, a city where he died on February 11, 1650 from pneumonia. His remains were transferred in 1676 to Paris and were buried until 1819, when they were moved again, in this case, to the Saint-Germain-des-Prés church.

Although his death was a tragic event, the truth is that he left behind a spectacular legacy, in which his works stand out especially: “Regulae ad directionem ingenii”, written around 1628 and published in 1701, “Discourse on the method", Which appeared in 1637 and created a stir,"Meditations", A text that was published in 1641,"Principia philosophiae"Of 1644 and" Passions of the soul "of 1649.

The Descartes work It covers all fields of science, from mathematics to physics, through medicine and philosophy. What the French thinker wanted was to create the “method science”. For him, all sciences were nothing other than “human wisdom, which remains always one and always the same”. He used this principle as a basic rule of thumb to develop the idea of ​​a “mathesis universalis”, That is, a general science that explains everything that can be sought with respect to order and measure without application to a particular subject.

According to this theory, Descartes applied the method to all the sciences of the universe, making metaphysics cease to be the necessary foundation to understand what surrounded him, although for him God was not absent.

At first, Descartes was preparing to publish his work called "The world”, Which was a physics treatise in which he criticized scholasticism. However, the condemn Galileo made him give up its publication, as he did not want to get in trouble with the authorities. The work he chose to supply it was “The Discourse of the method”, An essay that was an attempt to unify the investigations that he had undertaken in other treaties to date. Among the bases he used are “Dioptric”, “Meteors”, “Geometry" Y "The world”.

Is conception of knowledge it had a great influence on the history of science, since it gave validity to the union between experience and knowledge. For Discards, metaphysics, especially the rational proof of the existence of God, bases the validity of its methodology. His work "Meditations" plays a decisive role in the history of Western philosophy. Descartes developed in this treatise a metaphysics that founded at the same time the rationality of man and the need for God, who guarantees it. It is exactly this principle that in the “Pincipae»Guaranteed the rationality of the physical, biological and moral world.

Descartes argued that, at first, it is always necessary to doubt everything, except the doubt itself. This approach implies that there is, facing the world that is in doubt, a thought that the philosopher calls “cogito”: “If there is a thought, there is a being that thinks, but the objectivity of what it thinks is derived from the world or itself in such a way that it can only be founded by God.”.

For him French thinker, Cartesian physical conceptions depended closely on their metaphysics. The rationality of the physical and biological world was expressed in terms of cause and effect exclusively, something that many historians and philosophers have dubbed "mechanism." The foundations behind this theory have the same rational nature as those of the human spirit as conceived by Descartes.

Besides all these questions, Descartes also raised the laws of geometric optics related to reflection and refraction. In the field of mathematics, he created the algebra of polynomials and, together with Fermat, analytic geometry. Finally, he also stated the fundamental properties of algebraic equations and simplified the algebraic notations.

Passionate about History, he has a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Since he was little he loved history and ended up exploring the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries above all.

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