Descartes Essays

Descartes Essays-53
In 1606 or 1607, Descartes entered the newly founded Jesuit College of La Flèche, where he remained until 1614 or 1615.He followed the usual course of studies, which included five or six years of grammar school, including Latin and Greek grammar, classical poets, and Cicero, followed by three years of philosophy curriculum.

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This natural world included an immaterial mind that, in human beings, was directly related to the brain; in this way, Descartes formulated the modern version of the mind–body problem.

In metaphysics, he provided arguments for the existence of God, to show that the essence of matter is extension, and that the essence of mind is thought.

In natural philosophy, he can be credited with several specific achievements: co-framer of the sine law of refraction, developer of an important empirical account of the rainbow, and proposer of a naturalistic account of the formation of the earth and planets (a precursor to the nebular hypothesis).

More importantly, he offered a new vision of the natural world that continues to shape our thought today: a world of matter possessing a few fundamental properties and interacting according to a few universal laws.

In the second essay, in order to show that Descartes believed in such a science, he has to quote scraps from early unpublished work (“Regulæ”) and private letters.

There is nothing about it in Descartes' mature published work.

The most extensive commentaries also elaborated in some detail on positions other than Aristotle's.

Within this framework, and taking into account the reading of Cicero, Descartes would have been exposed in school to the doctrines of the ancient atomists, Plato, and the Stoics, and he would have heard of the skeptics.

When Descartes was thirteen and one-half months old, his mother, Jeanne Brochard, died in childbirth.

The young René spent his first years with his grandmother, Jeanne Sain Brochard, in La Haye, together with his older brother Pierre and older sister Jeanne.


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