Descartes(d*krt") prop. n. Ren Descartes, a French philosopher and mathematician, born 159, died 1650. See biography, below.
Syn. -- Rene Descartes.
Descartes, Ren (Latinized Renatus Cartesius). Born at La Haye, Touraine, France, March 31, 1596: died at Stockholm, Feb. 11, 1650. A. celebrated French philosopher, founder of Cartesianism and of modern philosophy in general. He was graduated at seventeen from the Jesuit college of La Flche, spent five years in Paris (1613-18), and then roamed about in search of knowledge in Germany, Italy, Holland, and Poland. In 1628 he attended the siege of La Rochelle as a volunteer. From 1629 to 1649 he led a retired life in Holland, spreading and defending his philosophical ideas. He finally went to Stockholm on the invitation of Queen Christina of Sweden; five months later he died there of pneumonia. The work that has made him famous as a philosopher is a short treatise entitled "Discours de la mthode" (Leyden, 1637). It was published in French together with three essays in support of his theories, "La dioptrique," "Les mtores," and "La gomtrie." In it he revolutionized the science of thought. Descartes himself published during his lifetime "Meditationes de prima philosophia "(Paris, 1641; Amsterdam, 1642; translated into French, 1647), "Principia philosophiae" (Amsterdam, 1644), "Trait des passions de l'me" (Amsterdam, 1649), and a polemic pamphlet entitled "Epistola Renati Descartes ad Gisbertum Voitum" (Amsterdam, 1643). After his death his friends published his "De l'homme" (1664), "Trait de la formation du foetus" (1664), "Le monde ou trait de la lumire de Descartes" (1664), "Lettres" (1657-67), and "Opuscula posthuma, physica et mathematica" (Amsterdam, 1701). Descartes ranked among the foremost mathematicians of his day. A separate reprint was made of his geometry, and the work itself was translated into Latin in 1649, and redited in 1659 with notes and comments. In this form it constituted a classic standard throughout Europe, and presented an entirely new basis for the study of algebra and geometry.
[Century Dict. 1906]
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