The Life and Works of Rene DescartesJune 27, 2021
French thinker, writer, scientist and mathematician. He is regarded as the founder of modern psychology and mathematics. He played a major role in bringing science to its present level with his theories that inspired scientists and philosophers after him.
Benefiting from mathematical expansions in the intellectual field, he argued that there is certain absolute-absolute information that emerges directly and is indisputable; He put forward this argument with his famous saying “I think, therefore I am”. Considered one of the main actors of the scientific revolution, Descartes contributed greatly to the evolutionary process of plane geometry and mathematics by developing the “Cartesian coordination system” (cartesianism).
Rene Descartes was born to a wealthy family on March 31, 1596, in France, in La Haye, which is now named after him and is part of Indre-et-Loire. After his mother died of tuberculosis a year after his birth, his father Joachim, a judge of the Brittany High Court, married another lady and Descartes was raised by his stepmother. At the age of ten, he was sent to a Jesuit college named Royal Henry-Le-Grand in La Fleche, Anjou, which he would later describe as one of the best schools in Europe. Due to his poor health, he was prescribed by his teachers to go to boarding. Since he was allowed to stay in bed until he felt better, he concentrated on the math studies, which he was very interested in. Since the education given at the school focused on Latin and Greek, there was an opportunity to learn these languages well; therefore, in the future, he saw great benefit from this education in his examination of old scientific and intellectual works.
Descartes, who was very interested in traveling, seeing new places and learning new things, went to Paris in 1612 with a few of his friends after graduating from high school. Fascinated by the majestic city, he lived recklessly for a while. Then, when he met two of his friends who were also interested in mathematics, he followed their purpose of coming to the city and plunged into scientific research. During the period until his university education, he made researches and studies on mathematics non-stop, especially with his friend Mersenne. While he was here, he met Mydorge, one of the famous mathematicians of the time, and broadened his horizons.
During his education, he developed himself especially in the fields of classical literature, history, rhetoric and philosophy. At his father’s direction, he entered the law school of the University of Poitiers and graduated in 1616. At that time, Europe was like a boiling cauldron. There were religiously based regional conflicts everywhere, and large numbers of defensive military units sprang up. Because of these political and social upheavals, it became popular for young people from noble families to join the church or army. Therefore, Descartes decided to join the army in order to consolidate his social status. Two years after graduating from high school, in 1618, when he heard exciting rumors about the Dutch Prince William of Orange and his campaigns to liberate his country from Spanish occupation, he followed the prince’s invitation and settled in his quest for adventure and his enthusiasm for travel. He began serving in the Protestant Dutch army under Maurice, Prince of the United Provinces of the Netherlands (Nassau).
Descartes, who spent several years with this enlistment as a soldier, met Isaac Beeckman, who during his tenure was the person who would make him aware of his creative talents in mathematics and physics. He wrote “Compendium Musicae”, one of his first philosophical works, in 1618 and dedicated it to Beeckman. In November 1619, during his trip to Germany, he developed his own vision of using mathematical knowledge to solve problems related to physics. Descartes’ vision was to discover the foundations of the sciences that would make an excellent contribution to the development of humanity. This period was a turning point in the life of the famous thinker and it was a process in which he formed the intellectual plane of the theories he would put forward on the development of analytic geometry. He would devote the rest of his life to unraveling the mysterious link between mathematics and nature. st. The philosopher, who also studied Augustine’s (354-430) concept of “free will”, pondered on the theory that human will, which he equated with God’s will, is independent of God’s will as a natural creation feature.
After leaving the service of the Prince of Orange, Descartes traveled to some European countries such as Denmark, Poland and Germany for a while, and at the beginning of the Thirty Years’ War, Descartes returned to the military and this time began to serve the Catholic Duke of the Bavarian army. While in Ulm on a military mission, he developed a methodology on the unity of the sciences. For Descartes, who did not engage in a hot battle during his military life, this period is a “great laziness and messiness”.