René Descartes, (born March 31, 1596, La Haye, Touraine, France—died February 11, 1650, Stockholm, Sweden), French mathematician, scientist, and philosopher. Because he was one of the first to abandon Scholastic Aristotelianism, because he formulated the first modern version of mind-body dualism, from which stems the mind-body problem, and because he promoted the development of a new science grounded in observation and experiment, he is generally regarded as the founder of modern philosophy. Applying an original system of methodical doubt, he dismissed apparent knowledge derived from authority, the senses, and reason and erected new epistemic foundations on the basis of the intuition that, when he is thinking, he exists; this he expressed in the dictum “I think, therefore I am” (best known in its Latin formulation, “Cogito, ergo sum,” though originally written in French, “Je pense, donc je suis”). He developed a metaphysical dualism that distinguishes radically between mind, the essence of which is thinking, and matter, the essence of which is extension in three dimensions. Descartes’s metaphysics is rationalist, based on the postulation of innate ideas of mind, matter, and God, but his physics and physiology, based on sensory experience, are mechanistic and empiricist.
Source – Britannica.
31 René Descartes Quotes on philosophy, life, mathematics and problem solving.
- I think; therefore I am.
2. By ‘God’, I understand, a substance which is infinite, independent, supremely intelligent, supremely powerful.
3. Except our own thoughts, there is nothing absolutely in our power.
4. The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest men of past centuries.
5. There is nothing more ancient than the truth.
6. Conquer yourself rather than the world.
7. Common sense is the most widely shared commodity in the world, for every man is convinced that he is well supplied with it.
8. It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well.
9. If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.
10. And thus, the actions of life often not allowing any delay, it is a truth very certain that, when it is not in our power to determine the most true opinions we ought to follow the most probable.
11. I suppose therefore that all things I see are illusions; I believe that nothing has ever existed of everything my lying memory tells me. I think I have no senses. I believe that body, shape, extension, motion, location are functions. What is there then that can be taken as true? Perhaps only this one thing, that nothing at all is certain.
12. The greatest minds are capable of the greatest vices as well as of the greatest virtues.
13. For I found myself embarrassed with so many doubts and errors that it seemed to me that the effort to instruct myself had no effect other than the increasing discovery of my own ignorance
14. Doubt is the origin of wisdom
15. To know what people really think, pay attention to what they do, rather than what they say.
16. But in my opinion, all things in nature occur mathematically.
17. You just keep pushing. You just keep pushing. I made every mistake that could be made. But I just kept pushing.
18. The two operations of our understanding, intuition and deduction, on which alone we have said we must rely in the acquisition of knowledge
19. In order to improve the mind, we ought less to learn than to contemplate.
20. I desire to live in peace and to continue the life I have begun under the motto ‘to live well you must live unseen
21. Each problem that I solved became a rule which served afterwards to solve other problems
22. Because reason is the only thing that makes us men, and distinguishes us from the beasts, I would prefer to believe that it exists, in its entirety, in each of us.
23. Truths will be discovered by an individual rather than a whole people.
24. It is only prudent never to place complete confidence in that by which we have even once been deceived.
25. Perfect numbers like perfect men are very rare
26. Divide each difficulty into as many parts as is feasible and necessary to resolve it.
27. To live without philosophizing is in truth the same as keeping the eyes closed without attempting to open them.
28. We do not describe the world we see, we see the world we can describe
29. Our convictions result from custom and example very much more than from any knowledge that is certain
30. An optimist may see a light where there is none, but why must the pessimist always run to blow it out
31. He who hid well, lived well.