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French Philosopher Rene Descartes I Think Therefore I Am

Updated on October 20, 2009
French Philosopher Rene Descartes I Think Therefore I Am
French Philosopher Rene Descartes I Think Therefore I Am

French Philosopher Rene Descartes I Think Therefore I Am

French Philosopher Rene Descartes I Think Therefore I Am


French philosopher and scientist

Popularly known as the father of modern philosophy, Rene Descartes pioneered a new approach to human knowledge, based on a faith in the ability of reason to benefit humanity.

The son of a French nobleman, his gift for mathematics emerged during his Jesuit education. In 1619 he dreamed of reworking knowledge on a more rational basis, and after ten years of travel in Europe he chose a secluded life in the Netherlands to pursue his goal. In his “Meditations,” written in French, not Latin, to allow a wider readership, Descartes began by doubting all knowledge, finding certainty only in the statement “I think, therefore I am.” He went on to argue that everything should be categorized as either mind or matter, and that all that is matter functions mechanically. He also helped to found coordinate geometry and made major contributions to optics.

In 1649 Descartes went to Stockholm to instruct Queen Christina of Sweden in philosophy. Accustomed to meditating in bed until 11 a.m., he fell into bad health when the queen insisted on taking her lessons at 5 a.m. He died of pneumonia one year later.

French Philosopher Rene Descartes I Think Therefore I Am - Timeline

MARCH 31, 1596

Born in La Haye, Touraine, a province of France, the son of a minor nobleman. Raised by grandmother after early death of mother and remarriage of father.

1604 –14 Attends Jesuit school at La Fleche and proves to be highly intelligent. Taught classical studies, science, mathematics, and metaphysics.

1614 –16 Studies law at the University of Poitiers.

Goes to Breda in the Netherlands and joins army of Maurice, prince of Orange, but sees no active service. Studies mathematics and military architecture.

Joins army of the duke of Bavaria. Experiences vision which reveals idea of a universal method of deductive reasoning, applicable to all human knowledge.

1619 – 28 Travels in northern and southern Europe, spending time in Paris, where he writes a series of unpublished treatises, and goes on a pilgrimage to Italy.

1628 Moves to Holland, possibly to escape pressures of Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation in France.

1633 Suppresses publication of “Le Monde” (The World) on hearing of condemnation of Galileo Galilei for publishing theory that earth revolves around the sun.

1637 Publishes “Discourse de la methode” (Discourse on Method), proposing rules for reasoning derived from mathematics, with essays on meteorology and optics.

Devastated by death at age five of illegitimate daughter, Francine.

1641 Publishes “Meditationes de Prima Philosophia” (Meditations on First Philosophy) rejecting all received knowledge and proposing the “cogito.”

1644 Publishes “Principia Philosophiae” (The Principles of Philosophy), a compilation of his metaphysics and physics, dedicated to Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia.

1649 Invited to instruct Queen Christina of Sweden in philosophy at her court in Stockholm. Dedicates to her “Les Passions de l’ame” (Passions of the Soul).

FEBRUARY 11, 1650

Dies of pneumonia. Buried in Stockholm but body is later removed to Paris.

1664 Posthumous publication of “L’Homme, et un traite de la formation du foetus” (Man, and a Treatise on the Formation of the Fetus).

Posthumous publication of “Regulae ad Directionem Ingenii (Rules for the Direction of the Mind) and “Recherche de la verite” (Search After Truth).

My name is Robee Kann, for four years I was a tour guide throughout Europe. I loved my job and I would love to hear from you. You are most welcome to message me to say hello or request a hub about a European subject. Please look at my other hubs and leave a comment for me.

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      wwghsfhzxgjjhgc 6 years ago

      Nice informatn.easy to learn and right