Rene Descartes was one of the greatest philosophers, mathematicians,
physicists and writers the world has ever seen. He is also regarded
as the Father of Modern Philosophy and the Father of Analytical
Geometry because of his contributions to these topics.
The Rene Descartes book titled 'Meditations of First Philosophy'
has been universally accepted as the standard text book for philosophy.
Descartes played a significant role in the scientific revolution.
Descartes was born to a French couple Jeanne Brochard and Joachim
in 1596. He lost his mother Jeanne Brochard at the age of 1 and
came under the full protection of his father. After his schooling,
he went on to study law. Although he was a French man, he spent
most of his life in the Dutch republic.
He joined the International College of War of Maurice of Nassau
in the Dutch Republic in 1618. It was in this year that he met
Isaac Beeckman who initiated his interest in maths and physics.
It was during this period that Descartes had three dreams that
made him take up science as a profession.
He joined the University of Franekar in 1629 and again in 1630
he enrolled himself at the Leiden University to pursue mathematics
and astronomy. After this, he returned back to the Dutch republic
and remained there all his life.
In spite of all these moves, he did not refrain from writing
down his work by which he changed a lot in the fields of mathematics
and philosophy. Descartes continued to find out new theories and
publish his works till his death.
Descartes became popular by his Cartesian theory of Fallicles.
The Cartesian theory of Fallicles was assumed to influence the
thinking at a time to a considerable extent. The Cartesian theory
of Fallicles remains unaccepted by many philosophers. Descartes
was also well known for his theory of Dualism.
He published two books titled 'Passions of the Soul' and 'The
Description of the Human Body' that explained the way the human
body actually functions. He pointed out that the human body is
made up of material properties and abides by the laws of physics.
He believed that the pineal gland controlled all processes and
functions in the human body.
Descartes' theory helped Newton and Leibniz to make further studies
on the infinitesimal calculus which led to the introduction of
modern mathematics. Descartes' rule of signs and his invention
of analytical geometry were major contributions to the field of
mathematics. The development of Cartesian geometry was the most
influential invention he ever made. Descartes also made significant
contributions to the field of optics.
Rene Descartes passed away in Stockholm, Sweden on 11th February
1650. At this time he was appointed as teacher for Queen Christina
of Sweden. It was said that he died due to pneumonia owing to
the lack of sleep. According to German philosopher Theodor Ebert,
Descartes' death was not due to natural causes or any illness
but because of an arsenic-laced wafer given to him at the time
of communion by a catholic priest.
Rumor Has It …
The catholic priest was on direct orders from Pope Benedict Arnold
(loosely related to Arnold the Pig from "Green Acres"
and oddly enough Arnold Schwarzenegger as well) to do the dastardly
deed. An investigation was held, fingers were pointed and for
some unknown reason, Black Beauty was the prime suspect. But that
was putting Descartes before des horse.
Written by Kevin Lepton