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Ten fun facts about René Descartes


1. Military Engineer Turned Philosopher

René Descartes had a strong desire to become a military officer, so he joined the Army of Breda and began formal studies of military engineering. He was determined to gain the knowledge and experience necessary to excel in the field, and his hard work paid off; he eventually rose to the rank of captain in the army. His studies of military engineering also gave him a strong foundation in mathematics, which would later prove to be invaluable in his philosophical work.

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2. The Man Who Thought He Was an oven

In 1619, René Descartes famously shut himself in an oven, where he experienced three visions that would shape his life and work. One of these visions was the basis for his famous phrase "I think, therefore I am", which has become one of the most widely-recognized philosophical statements in history. This phrase encapsulates Descartes' belief that the act of thinking is proof of one's own existence.

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3. René Descartes & Daughter Francine

René Descartes, the famous French philosopher, had a daughter named Francine in 1635, born to a servant woman. Sadly, Francine passed away in 1640, leaving Descartes to mourn her loss.

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4. The French Philosopher Who Died of Pneumonia

René Descartes, the French philosopher and mathematician, is believed to have passed away in 1650 due to a combination of factors. His rigorous study schedule is thought to have caused a lack of sleep, which in turn weakened his immune system and made him susceptible to pneumonia, the illness that ultimately took his life. Descartes' death was a tragedy, as he was a major figure in the scientific revolution and his works continue to influence philosophy and mathematics to this day.

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5. Denied Pension Despite Fame

René Descartes, the renowned French philosopher, dedicated his book "Passions of the Soul" to the Princess of France. Upon his death, he was awarded a pension from the King of France, yet sadly, he never received it.

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6. Religious Views Remain a Source of Controversy

René Descartes' religious views remain a source of debate to this day. He professed to be a devout Catholic, yet was accused of secretly harboring atheist beliefs. This has led to a great deal of speculation and discussion about his true beliefs, with some arguing that he was a closet atheist, while others maintain that he was a faithful Catholic. Whatever the truth may be, it is clear that Descartes' religious views remain a source of fascination and controversy.

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7. One of the most influential mathematicians in history

René Descartes is widely regarded as one of the most influential figures in the history of mathematics. His work in the field laid the groundwork for the development of calculus by Isaac Newton and other mathematicians. Descartes' contributions to mathematics include the Cartesian coordinate system, the foundation of algebraic geometry, and the development of analytical geometry. His work in mathematics helped to provide the basis for the calculus developed by Newton and others, and his influence on the field of mathematics is still felt today.

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8. The Father of Reflection

René Descartes, the French philosopher and mathematician, was the first to mention the law of reflection in an essay on optics he published. This law states that when a ray of light, sound, or heat strikes a surface, it is reflected off the surface at the same angle as it hit the surface. Descartes' essay on optics was groundbreaking in its time, as it was the first to explain the behavior of light and its reflection off of surfaces. This essay was a major contribution to the field of optics and has been studied and referenced by scientists and philosophers ever since.

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9. Father of Modern Western Philosophy

René Descartes is widely regarded as the "father of modern Western philosophy". His philosophical works, such as Discourse on the Method and Meditations on First Philosophy, have had a profound influence on the development of philosophical thought in the Western world. His ideas on the nature of reality, the existence of God, and the relationship between mind and body have been particularly influential, and have been studied and debated for centuries. Descartes' legacy continues to shape the way we think about the world today.

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10. advocate for vivisection

René Descartes is widely known as an advocate for vivisection, the practice of performing experiments on live animals. He famously denied that animals can feel pain, and argued that they are merely machines that lack the capacity for conscious experience. This controversial view has been widely criticized by animal rights activists, who argue that animals do indeed feel pain and should be treated with respect and compassion.

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Short about René Descartes
A French philosopher, mathematician and writer.

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