7 things you didn’t know about René Descartes

One of the most famous quotes in philosophical history came from the mind of René Descartes: “I think; therefore I am”. Descartes was reasoning that mankind truly does exists because we are capable of thinking. And a lot of thinking he did!

Besides being one of the most well-known philosophers of the modern era, he also honored his beloved homeland, France, by being an exceptional mathematician and physicist.

What made him stand out, overall, is that he was a rationalist. This means that he relied on reasoning as the best guide for both belief and action. While all other philosophers were discussing the concept of God, Descartes was focusing on logic and the knowledge we could gain as human beings.

He had immense faith in introspection, guided by definitions and arguments, and he strongly believed that most of what is wrong in this world was caused by misusing the power of our minds, by confusion, and by acting illogical.

In order to better know and understand the mindset of this outstanding philosopher, let’s look at some facts about his life.

René Descartes: 7 facts about his life

We aim to bring our readers interesting articles about figures we admire and learn about often. We do this because we strongly believe there is much more to know about Albert Einstein than what we already know about him. The same goes for the likes of Stephen Hawking, and all the other thought leaders we have talked about on this blog.

On this occasion, we wanted to talk about the amazing René Descartes. On one hand, because math and philosophy are and can be extremely related, and on the other hand, because we are sure that these facts will help you better understand the person behind the legend.

Let’s begin!

1. His dad wanted him to be a lawyer: Although he came from a family full of lawyers, he proved that he was highly successful in the fields he loved the most. Mathematics, philosophy, and physics were his favorite subjects, and he contributed to the development of mathematical reasoning in a way we use until our days. So, time to ask yourself… Are you supporting your kids’ desires for their future or are you imposing on them what to do career-wise?

2. He used to get distracted by shiny objects: Well, we cannot blame him. Who wouldn’t get distracted by objects that are way too bright? No one is perfect, don’t you think?

3. Being aware of the process: In his famous book “Rules for the Direction of the Mind”, Descartes exposed that in order to solve a big math problem, we should break it up into small parts that are easier to comprehend, and check each step repeatedly. So, if your math teacher insisted on you checking each step of solving a problem, it was because of Descartes.

4. He used to sleep until noon: Maybe you shouldn’t get mad if your teenagers sleep until noon! They still can turn into world-changing geniuses. Although some people say Descartes had a sleep disorder, waking up at noon didn’t stop him from creating fascinating theories and from writing outstanding materials. Bonus fact: Did you know that on many occasions he worked from bed?

5. He did not use his name: Almost nobody called Descartes by his name René. Actually, he decided to go by a nickname (or a number of them), and in general, he introduced himself as “Poitevin”. What do you think? Maybe your kids’ Instagram handles will be how the world will recognize their praiseworthy creations.

6. Do you believe in interpreting dreams? Descartes did! During a cold night in Germany, he had to sleep in a room with a very hot oven in it. During that fateful night, and according to Descartes himself, he had a number of dreams that enabled him to unveil his life’s purpose. Starting from that day, he wanted to reform all knowledge.

7. Vegans and animal activities must hate Descartes: In many publications, appearances, and speeches, René Descartes stated that animals cannot reason. He even said that animals do not feel pain. We now know that he wasn’t exactly correct regarding the latter.

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