The Biography of Rene Descartes

Essay by mjhs_asmsHigh School, 10th gradeA+, May 2004

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René Descartes born on March 31, 1596 in Touraine, France, is a fragile boy. Even at an early age, he is very bright and interested in learning. At eight years old, he is sent to the Jesuit school of La Fléche in Anjou. He performs brilliantly in all his studies, mathematics and physics in particular. He graduates in 1616 from the University of Poitiers with a degree in civil and canon law. He spends much time in Paris with friends in casinos gambling, but soon becomes tired of it all. After graduating, he enlists in the army to get away from his previous life and to study and think alone. He never marries, but does father a child, who dies at the age of five from scarlet fever. In 1649, Queen Christina of Sweden, requests that Descartes come to Stockholm, but he refuses. He eventually gives in and begins to tutor the queen.

But because of the five o'clock tutor sessions and extremely cold weather, both of which he is not accustomed to, Descartes acquires pneumonia and because of his despise of doctors and medicine, he refuses to be treated and dies February 11, 1650.

Descartes wrote several books and treatises during his lifetime. Descartes' earliest work, Rules for the Direction of Mind written in 1628, is published posthumously. It discusses the universal method and its consequences. In The World (1634), he expresses his heliocentric views of the earth, but after hearing of Galileo's condemnation, he chooses not to publish it. It is publish after his death, but not in its entirety. In his book, Principle Philosophy (1644), he puts forth most of his scientific ideas. The points of focus of this paper will come only from his books Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason and Seeking...