A biography of the mathematician and philosopher René Descartes, by an Irish classicist and scholar.
Early Youth and Education
Later Youth and Campaigns – The Crisis of his Life
Sequel of the Crisis – Further Travels, and Residence in Paris
Retirement into Holland – Early Correspondence and Scientific Work
Descartes’ First Publication – The Essays
Correspondence and Controversies of The Essays
The Meditations, and the Objections of the Learned
The Utrecht Controversies, and Other Correspondence
The Principles – The Princess Elizabeth and Descartes – letters to Mesland on the Eucharist
The Closing Years of Hist Life in Holland
Descartes’ Philosophy – His Method –The Existence of the Deity
His System of Physics
Anthropology – The Automatism of Brutes
The Passions – Ethical Theory
The Influence of Descartes Upon His Age
About Descartes (from Wikipedia):
René Descartes (31 March 1596 – 11 February 1650) was a French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist. A native of the Kingdom of France, he spent about 20 years (1629–1649) 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. One of the most notable intellectual figures of the Dutch Golden Age, Descartes is also widely regarded as one of the founders of modern philosophy.
Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy (1641) continues to be a standard text at most university philosophy departments. Descartes’ 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 Passions of the Soul, an early modern treatise on 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 “I think, therefore I am” (French: Je pense, donc je suis; Latin: Ego cogito, ergo sum), found in Discourse on the Method (1637; written in French and Latin) and Principles of Philosophy (1644; written in Latin).
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.