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Ren Descartes 1596-1650 LIFE Descartes was educated at a Jesuit college which was firmly grounded in the scholastic tradition After furthering his education in Paris he enlisted in the Dutch and later the Bavarian militaries In 1629 Descartes moved to Holland where he lived in seclusion for 20 years changing his residence frequently to preserve his privacy During this period he produced the writings upon which his fame rests His studies were first restricted to science and only later did he explore metaphysics In 1649 Descartes moved to Stockholm at the request of Queen Christina of Sweden who employed him as a philosophy tutor Christina scheduled the lectures at 5 AM The early hours and harsh climate took their toll on Descartess already weakened condition He died shortly after in 1650 During his life Descartess fame rose to such an extent that many Catholics believed he would be a candidate for sainthood As his body was transported from Sweden back to France anxious relic collectors along the path removed pieces of his body By the time his body reached France it was considerably reduced in size Descartes philosophy developed in the context of the key features of Renaissance and early modern philosophy Like the humanists he rejected religious authority in the quest for scientific and philosophical knowledge For Descartes reason was both the foundation and guide for pursuing truth Although Descartes was a devout Catholic he was also influenced by the Reformations challenge to Church authority particularly the challenge against medieval Aristotelianism He was an active participant in the scientific revolution in both scientific method and in particular discoveries Finally and perhaps most importantly Descartes reacted strongly against the Renaissance resurgence of ancient Greek skepticism Thus we find in Descartes writings a relentless pursuit of absolute certainty DISCOURSE ON THE METHOD Descartes first discussion of scientific method is
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