Rene Descartes

The French mathematician Rene Descartes was born on 31 March 1596 in La

Haye (now Descartes), Touraine, France. At the age of eight, he entered the Jesuit

College at La Fleche where he developed a lasting interest in mathematics. He studied

various subjects until he left in 1612. Ironically, attending school had made Descartes

understand how little he knew. He discovered that the only subject satisfactory in his

eyes was the study of mathematics. This idea became the foundation for his way of

thinking. He believed that all science could be unified by the application of reason in

mathematics.

After studying law at the University of Poiters and receiving his degree in 1616, he

entered a military school where he continued his studies in mathematics. Then, he

spent a short period of time traveling before joining the army in 1620. Following his

time with the military, he settled in Holland and began his writings.

His first works took 4 years to complete. It was titled Le Monde, ou Traite de la

Lumiere. This work attempted to give a physical theory of the universe. It was a

dangerous subject on which to publish in this day and age since this kind of theory went

against church belief. When news reached Descartes that Galileo was condemned to

house arrest due to his own publications, he decided not to publish his works for fear of

punishment.

He then worked for years on his Discours de la methode pour bien conduire sa

raison et chercher la veritie dans les sciences or "Discourse of the Method of Properly

Guiding the Reason in the Search of Truth in the Sciences." This work contained three

appendices, one of which was La Geometrie. In La Geometrie he describes his method

that should be applied when...