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Descartes, René

(Renatus Cartesius; 1596–1650). B. La Haye, Touraine; d. Stockholm. Fr. RC philos.; educ. Jesuit coll., La Flèche. In Holland 1629–49, Swed. 1649–50. System (Cartesianism*) differs in many respects from Thomism (see Scholasticism). He is called father of modern philos. because he broke the sway of Scholasticism with his initial doubt, mathematical deduction generalized, and opposition to Aristotelianism. Held that all knowledge is open to initial doubt, except reality of self. Was convinced of his own existence by force of the sequitur: If there is a thought, there must be one who thinks it. This he expressed in the maxim: “Cogito, ergo sum” i. e., “I think, therefore I exist.” Generalizing mathematical deductions, he envisaged a mechanistic world from which he exempted the human soul and God, who is the infinite substance; space and motion were basic realities. Cartesian dualism* maintains the absolute duality of res cogitans (mind) and res extensa (matter). Works include Discours de la méthode; Meditationes de prima philosophia; Principia philosophiae; Les Passions de l'ame.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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