René Descartes

René Descartes: Philosophy and seventeenth century Rationalism

British philosopher and eminent Descartes scholar the late Sir Bernard Williams talks about the relevance and importance of Descartes as a seminal figure of modern philosophy. René Descartes, as a man of science, mathematics and philosophy, known best for his ‘Discourse on Method’ and ‘Meditations on First Philosophy’, certainly marks the point at which the world decided to go ‘modern’. His philosophical system based on deductive reasoning and a priori truths, were the basis for seventeenth century Rationalism. Individualistic, lucid and methodical, he believed in innate ideas, ones that do not come to us through experience, and not to forget his contributions to analytic geometry and the mind-set behind the scientific method, Descartes was determined to make a clean sweep of all the comfortable old assumptions, to take nobody’s word for anything, to doubt everything. We are all better for that.

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