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Rationalists Five Basic Works on Rationalism by Rene Descartes.

Rationalists Five Basic Works on Rationalism 
by Rene Descartes


Descartes : An Intellectual Biography

Descartes : An Intellectual Biography
by Stephen Gaukroger


Descartes : His Life and Thought

Descartes : His Life and Thought
by Genevieve Rodis-Lewis, Jane Marie Todd (Translator)

Rene Descartes 1596-1650

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The Philosophical Writings of Descartes by John Cottingham (Translator), Robert Stoothoff, Dugald Murdoch (Translator), Rene Descartes.

René Descartes:  Biography

Biography by Peter Landry at


Descartes was a product of the church and his philosophy reflected the times in which he lived. Descartes was a dualist, viz., a man was of two natures, a spiritual nature and a temporal nature. Now whether this was a belief held deeply, might be a matter of some question, what is clear is that he would have professed his beliefs, such, that, they were in keeping with the doctrine of the time, as promulgated by the all powerful church.As a dualist, Descartes, would have accepted that there exists a priori truths (truths not derived from experience; truths such as the existence of God). And, while Descartes accepted some ideas were developed from experience, he was steadfast in his belief that certain ideas were innate. By pure deduction Descartes evolved for himself entire universes that neither he, nor anyone else, could perceive by the use of their natural senses. All that was necessary, for Descartes, was intense self examination and intense reason, and, through this process, all would be revealed.


Descartes Biography and Introduction (Catholic Encyclopedia)

Written by Clodius Piat, transcribed by Rick McCarty


(Renatus Cartesius), philosopher and scientist, born at La Haye France, 31 March, 1596; died at Stockholm, Sweden, 11 February 1650. He studied at the Jesuit college of La Flèche, one of the most famous schools of the time. In 1613 he went to Paris, where he formed a lasting friendship with Father Mersenne, O. F. M., and made the acquaintance of the mathematician Mydorge. He afterwards enlisted in the armies of Maurice of Nassau, and of the Duke of Bavaria. On 10 November, 1619, he felt a strong impulse to set aside the prejudices of his childhood and of his environment, and to devote his life to the restoration of human knowledge, which was then in a state of decadence; and for him this mission took on quite a mystical character. He had a dream which he interpreted as a revelation, and he became convinced that "it was the Spirit of Truth that willed to open for him all the treasures of knowledge". After much journeying in Brittany, Poitou, Switzerland, and Italy, he returned to Paris in 1625. There he remained for two years during which it was his fortune to meet Cardinal Bérulle who encouraged him in his scientific vocation. But as Paris offered neither the peace nor the independence his work demanded, he set out in 1629 for Holland, and there in the midst of a commercial people he enjoyed the advantage of living as quietly as in a desert. From this retreat he gave to the world his "Discours de la méthode" (1637), "Méditations" (1641), "Principes" (1644), and "Passions"(l649). "Le Monde" had been completed in 1633, but the condemnation of Galileo frightened Descartes who preferred to avoid all collision with ecclesiastical authority. He deferred the publication of this clever work without, however, losing hope of eventually bringing it out. In 1649, yielding to the entreaties of Queen Christina, he went to Sweden, and died at Stockholm of inflammation of the lungs.


Descartes Biography and Introduction (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)


Descartes was educated at a Jesuit college which was firmly grounded in the scholastic tradition. After furthering his education in Paris, he enlisted in the Dutch and, later, the Bavarian militaries. In 1629 Descartes moved to Holland where he lived in seclusion for 20 years, changing his residence frequently to preserve his privacy. During this period he produced the writings upon which his fame rests. His studies were first restricted to science, and only later did he explore metaphysics. In 1649, Descartes moved to Stockholm at the request of Queen Christina of Sweden who employed him as a philosophy tutor. Christina scheduled the lectures at 5 A.M. The early hours and harsh climate took their toll on Descartes' already weakened condition. He died shortly after in 1650. During his life, Descartes' fame rose to such an extent that many Catholics believed he would be a candidate for sainthood. As his body was transported from Sweden back to France, anxious relic collectors along the path removed pieces of his body. By the time his body reached France, it was considerably reduced in size.


Descartes' Epistemology (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)


René Descartes' approach to the theory of knowledge plays a prominent role in shaping the agenda of early modern philosophy. It continues to affect (some would say "infect") the way problems in epistemology are conceived today. Students of philosophy (in his own day, and in the history since) have found the distinctive features of his epistemology to be at once attractive and troubling: the emphasis on method, on discovering foundations, the conception of the doubtful as contrasting with the warranted, the skeptical arguments undermining all our commonsense opinions, to mention just a few that we shall consider. 


Interesting facts about Descartes

A part of the Catalog of the Scientific Community (Galileo Project). Compiled by: Richard S. Westfall, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Indiana University


Descartes and the Mind/Body Dualism

This site is from Serendip at Bryn Mawr.   Serendip is a gathering place for people who suspect that life's instructions are always ambiguous and incomplete. Originating in interactions among neurobiologists, computer scientists, business people, and educators, Serendip is both an expanding forum and a continually developing set of resources to explore and support intellectual and social change in education, in social organization... and in how one makes sense of life.

Site includes:

bulletRené Descartes
bulletThe 17th Century: Reaction to the Dualism of Mind and Body
bulletThe 18th Century: Mind, Matter, and Monism
bulletThe 19th Century: Mind and Brain
bulletMind, Brain, and Adaptation: the Localization of Cerebral Function
bulletTrance and Trauma: Functional Nervous Disorders and the Subconscious Mind

Descartes' Texts Online
bulletMeditations on First Philosophy (searchable html at Great Voyages)
bulletMeditations on First Philosophy (at Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
bulletMeditations on First Philosophy (txt at
bulletMeditations on First Philosophy (Latin and English, at
bulletDiscourse on the Method (at Great Voyages)
bulletDiscourse on the Method (at
bulletDiscourse on the Method (txt at
bulletDiscourse on the Method (at Bjorn's Site)
bulletDiscourse on the Method (at Wiretap)
bulletDiscourse on the Method (at Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
bulletDiscourse on the Method (at
bulletDiscourse on the Method (html at
bulletDiscourse on the Method (at Factasia)
bulletDiscourse on the Method (at BiblioBytes)
bulletDiscours de la Methode (french txt at
bulletDiscours de la Methode (french html at


Descartes Citations from the Library of Congress


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