’ Descartes Essay, Research Paper

Rene’ Descartes was a French mathematician, philosopher and anatomist. He

contributed a great deal to modern ideas , particularly those concerned with geometry. He

was known in his time as a mechanist, because he believed that nature could be

explained through rational means, and inherent patterns could be found. During his life,

Descartes remade geometry and made modern geometry possible.

Rene’ Descartes was born on March, 31 1596 in La Haye, Touraine, which was a

former province of France. Rene’ Descartes was the third child of a wealthy French

family. Because of his father’s poor health, Rene’ did as he pleased. At the age of eight,

Rene’ was sent to a Jesuit college for formal schooling in the classics. The teacher of the

school was sensitive to Rene’s health and allowed him to stay in bed until he felt ready to

attend class. Descartes used the quiet morning to think, and in later life he said they were

the real source of his mathematics and philosophy. At the age of 18, Rene’ left school to

begin leading the life of a gentleman in Paris. He found partying amusing for a while.

Soon after, he joined the army and went on to fight in a war in Germany. In Germany,

Rene’ had the most remarkable dream in the history of Math. He reported a number of

episodes in the dream, and one of them is usually believed to be the application of

algebra to geometry and the beginning of analytic and coordinate geometry. Descartes

remained a soldier for another 2 years and then retired to Paris.

Until then Descartes had published nothing, but he had shared his discoveries

with others earlier. One of Descartes’ friends convinced him that he had a sacred duty to

share them with the world in writing.. Soon after he went to Holland to write and think.

He spent the next 20 years roaming around Holland and working with the brightest minds

in Europe. His father was the only person who knew his whereabouts. In 1637, Rene’

Descartes’ book, Le Monde, was published. A few theologians condemned his work but

nothing happened.

Descartes was still in Holland happily gardening when, thinking and writing when

19 year old Queen Christina of Sweden decided that she must have him as a tutor in

Mathematics. She sent a ship to fetch him to the court, but he waited several months

before leaving for Sweden. Descartes arrived in Sweden in the fall of 1649. He managed

not to live at the court, but Christina scheduled their class for 5 a.m., each day. Descartes

died the next the next February of an inflammation of the lungs.

Rene’ Descartes made some of his most notable contributions in the field of

mathematics. He was the first mathematician to classify curves to the types of equations

that produce them. He also invented the method of indices to express the powers of a

number. His chief contributions to mathematics were his analytical geometry and his

theory of vortices, and it is on his researches in connection with the former of these

subjects that his mathematical reputation rests. Analytical geometry does not consist

merely in the application of algebra to geometry; that had been done by many

mathematicians. The great advance made by Descartes was that he saw that a point in a

plane could be completely determined if it’s distances, say x and y, from two fixed lines

drawn at right angles in the plane were given, with the convention familiar to us as to the

interpretation of positive and negative values: and though an equation was indeterminate

and could be satisfied by an infinite number of values of x and y, yet these values of x

and y determined the coordinates of a number of points which form a curve, of which the

equation expresses some geometrical, that is, a property true of a curve at every point on

it. Descartes asserted that a point in space could be similarly determined by three

coordinates. In addition, he formulated the rule, which is know as Descartes’ rule of

signs, for finding the number of positive and negative roots for any algebraic equation.

Rene’ Descartes, philosopher and mathematician, made many contributions to our

world today. From developing his theory of vortices, and inventing the method of indices.

His understandings have advanced our world to modern understandings.

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