Rene Descartes Essay, Research Paper
I Think Therefore I Write
The philosopher I chose was Rene Descartes, he was more than just a philosopher. He was also a scientist and a mathematician, this man was truly the first of his kind. He was born on March 31, 1596 in La Haye which is near Tours. After his child hood he attended the Jesit College of La Fleche between 1606 and 1614. Then he went on to become a doctor of law at the University of Poitiers. At this point he joined a chorus of other philosophers such as Bacon, Hobbes and Locke. Descartes, then went on to serve in the army of Prince Maurice of Nassau. Then his life took a sudden turn, on November 10, 1619 Descartes had a dream of a unified scientific system all based on mathematics.
His first work published was Rules for the Direction of Mind, while this was written in 1628 it was not published until 1701. This work basically talked about his ideas of method. This work said that he had made many discoveries by taking in results in the order they were presented to him. He thought that the use of method would help aid in advancements in science. Descartes then made himself known for the first time while in Paris. He confronted Chandoux, who was claiming that science could only be based on probabilities . Descartes, attacked his viewpoint by saying that certainty could be the only basis for knowledge, and that he had a method for attaining certainty. Descartes, then moved to Holland where he could work undisturbed. He planned on publishing a work called The World in 1634, although he found out that Galileo had been condemned by the church for teaching Copernicanism. The work he was about to publish contained a lot of Copernicanism so he decided not to publish this work. In 1641 he published a work called Meditations on First Philosophy, this work was meant to establish some of his ideas he had mentioned within his argument with Chandoux. After this he wrote The Principles of Philosophy, this was the most complete statement from Descartes. There were four parts to this work, Part one explained his metaphysical views. Part two gave a exposition of the principles of Cartesian physics. Part three used those principles to give a explanation of the universe. Part four deals with a lot of terrestrial phenomena.
Descartes also dealt with a lot of controversy, Henricus Regius a Professor of Medicine published a work called Foundations of Physics. Descartes said that Regius had stolen unpublished papers and distorted the information and published it as his own. Descartes final published work was called Passions of the Soul, this was basically his ideas on psychology, physiology and also ethics. After this work Descartes went to Stockholm, he later died here because of a pneumonia.
Descartes believed that in philosophy and mathematics certainty is found through understanding. This means that if there is one person in a room and another in a room next to that person. Then there are two different people in two different rooms. He thought that mathematics goes past the senses, making up an entire mathematical order to the universe without senses. I think that this is very true because when you have a certain amount of things or certain numbers to add, you have mathematics. Even beyond our universe there is still a set up of mathematics that makes up everything. Basically beyond all senses too, there could be mathematics everywhere, even existing without senses. Even if there are no people or no animals to touch or see the object, it still exists and is in some order.
In another work that Descartes published called Meditations on First Philosophy, he discussed our belief in senses. He says that if we are all a illusion made by someone else than who can we trust. He also says that we can doubt our existence within our own mind. I think that what he is saying here is also very true because of the fact of modern society. Even today we do not know who we can fully trust. What Descartes said along time ago can be applied to modern day life, the government has deceived us as a country. So what he was saying is true, if this is all a illusion then there is no one to trust. There are people deceiving us all the time so we can only doubt are existence and nobody can cause us to do this except ourselves.
From these thoughts Descartes developed the famous saying “cogito ergo sum”(I think therefore I am). I think that this can be interpreted in many ways, although from my point of view I see it as truth. When you can think and you are functioning you are living. Meaning that you do exist in some form and that you are present. I think that this is a very remarkable quote, because it makes every living being that can think feel special. If you think you are part of the whole that exists around us, I truly believe in this quote because I am here writing this paper.
Another thing that Descartes believed in was Cartesian Dualism, meaning that there are two types of entities, mind and matter. I think that this is truly interesting, because of the fact of computers. Descartes said that because something was matter it could not think and only minds could think. This remained true although with modern society we have created matter that can think. Computers are metal and wires that can think artificially. This basically questions a lot of Descartes ideas, because it proves that their can be matter that thinks.
Descartes was truly one of the greatest philosophers, he had so much skill in other areas that helped him become who he was. I think that throughout his life he put things from his own experience into his work. He used everything from mathematics to psychology. Descartes will be remembered as one of the most ground breaking philosophers of our modern era.