René Descartes

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René Descartes (1596-1650) was a French mathematician, natural scientist, and philosopher, best known by the phrase 'Cogito ergo sum' ('I think therefore I am'). He published works on optics, coordinate geometry, physiology, and cosmology, however, he is mostly remembered as the "father of modern philosophy". He lived in a time preceding the Age of Enlightenment that flourished in Europe in the late 17th and throughout the 18th century, a period of revolutionary ideas in government, individual freedom, and religious beliefs. While not a direct participant in the Enlightenment, Descartes' legacy would be his influence on those who contributed to the scientific, political, and social changes throughout this age, an age of reason.

More about: René Descartes


  • 1596 - 1650
    Life of French philosopher Rene Descartes.
  • 1633
    Philosopher Rene Descartes writes his Le Monde, a defense of the heliocentric view of the solar system.
  • 1637
    Philosopher René Descartes writes his Discourse on the Method.
  • 1641
    Philosopher René Descartes writes his Meditations, a discussion of his Cartesian theory and God's existence.
  • 1644
    Philosopher René Descartes writes his Principles of Philosophy, an examination of the relationship between the body and soul.