René Descartes quotes

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René Descartes

Birthdate: 31. March 1596
Date of death: 11. February 1650

René Descartes was a French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist. Dubbed the father of modern western philosophy, much of subsequent Western philosophy is a response to his writings, which are studied closely to this day. A native of the Kingdom of France, he spent about 20 years of his life in the Dutch Republic after serving for a while in the Dutch States Army of Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange and the Stadtholder of the United Provinces. He is generally considered one of the most notable intellectual representatives of the Dutch Golden Age.

Descartes's Meditations on First Philosophy continues to be a standard text at most university philosophy departments. Descartes's influence in mathematics is equally apparent; the Cartesian coordinate system was named after him. He is credited as the father of analytical geometry, the bridge between algebra and geometry, used in the discovery of infinitesimal calculus and analysis. Descartes was also one of the key figures in the scientific revolution.

Descartes refused to accept the authority of previous philosophers. He frequently set his views apart from those of his predecessors. In the opening section of the Les passions de l'âme, 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". His best known philosophical statement is "Cogito ergo sum" , found in part IV of Discours de la méthode and §7 of part I of Principles of Philosophy .

Many elements of his philosophy have precedents in late Aristotelianism, the revived Stoicism of the 16th century, or in earlier philosophers like Augustine. In his natural philosophy, he differed from the schools on two major points: first, he rejected the splitting of corporeal substance into matter and form; second, he rejected any appeal to final ends, divine or natural, in explaining natural phenomena. In his theology, he insists on the absolute freedom of God's act of creation.

Descartes laid the foundation for 17th-century continental rationalism, later advocated by Baruch Spinoza and Gottfried Leibniz, and opposed by the empiricist school of thought consisting of Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. Leibniz, Spinoza and Descartes were all well-versed in mathematics as well as philosophy, and Descartes and Leibniz contributed greatly to science as well.

Works

„The entire method consists in the order and arrangement of the things to which the mind’s eye must turn so that we can discover some truth.“

—  René Descartes, book Rules for the Direction of the Mind

Rules for the Direction of the Mind: X.379
As quoted in [Clarke, Desmond M., 2006, Descartes : a Biography, Cambridge Press, 67, ISBN 978-0-521-82301-2]

„It is not enough to have a good mind. The main thing is to use it well.“

—  René Descartes

Variant: It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well.
Source: Discourse on Method

„If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.“

—  René Descartes, book Principles of Philosophy

Original Latin: Veritatem inquirenti, semel in vita de omnibus, quantum fieri potest, esse dubitandum
Variant translation: If you would be a real seeker after truth, you must at least once in your life doubt, as far as possible, all things.
Principles of Philosophy (1644)
Variant: In order to seek truth, it is necessary once in the course of our life, to doubt, as far as possible, of all things.

„With me, everything turns into mathematics.
More closely translated as: but in my opinion, all things in nature occur mathematically.“

—  René Descartes

""Mais"" is French for ""but"" and the ""but in my opinion"" comes from the context of the original conversation. apud me omnia fiunt Mathematicè in Natura is in latin.
Sometimes the Latin version is incorrectly quoted as Omnia apud me mathematica fiunt.
Sources: Correspondence with Mersenne http://fr.wikisource.org/wiki/Page%3aDescartes_-_%C5%92uvres,_%C3%A9d._Adam_et_Tannery,_III.djvu/48 note for line 7 (1640), page 36, Die Wiener Zeit http://books.google.com/books?id=9Xh3fVZLCycC&pg=PA532&lpg=PA532&dq=%22Omnia+apud+me+mathematica+fiunt%22+original+zitat&source=bl&ots=CgQOrveRiM&sig=WFHwIK20r5vRZ66FwCaxo857LCU&hl=de&sa=X&ei=_Wf2UcHlJYbfsgaf1IHABg#v=onepage&q=%22Omnia%20apud%20me%20mathematica%20fiunt%22%20original%20zitat&f=false page 532 (2008); StackExchange Math Q/A Where did Descartes write... http://math.stackexchange.com/questions/454599/where-did-descartes-write-with-me-everything-turns-into-mathematics?noredirect=1#comment978229_454599
Original: (la) Mais apud me omnia fiunt Mathematicè in Natura

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