"I think, therefore I am."


Rene Descartes was one of the greatest philosophers of the Renaissance period.


Rene Descartes was born on March 31, 1596, in a small town in France called La Haye. He attended the college of Henri IV in La Fleche at the age of 10 and he left La Fleche in 1614 to study civil and cannon law at Poitiers. He received baccalaureate and licentiate degrees in law in 1616, and in 1618 he joined the army of Prince Maurice. Between 1628 and 1649 he led a quiet scholarly life. He produced most of his philosophical writings within this period. Rene Descartes died in Sweden in the year 1650.


Rene Descartes was a respected philosopher, scientist and mathematician. He used new methods of investigating nature and he invented analytic geometry. He was the first philosopher to describe the physical universe in terms of matter and motion. He created three major works: Discourse on Method, Meditations on First Philosophy, and Principles of Philosophy.

He claimed that the world was created by God and that it was made of two substances: matter and spirit. Matter was the physical universe and spirit was the human mind. He considered that perhaps God or an evil spirit was constantly tricking his mind causing him to believe what was false.

His theories of knowledge and of the relation between mind and matter influenced many later philosophers.


Rene Descartes is considered the father of modern philosophy.

Philosopher, Scientist, Mathematician


1. Descartes et l'avenement du Sujet. France, Larousse, 1990, pp. 372-373.

2. Goetz, Philip W. Rene Descartes. London, Encyclopedia Britannica Inc., 1985, pp. 29-30.

3. Wilson, Margaret D. Rene Descartes. Chicago, World Book Inc., 1988, pp. 159-160.

This page was prepared by Kevin and Colin, Grade 8, Riverdale Junior Secondary School.