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Ren Descartes 1596 - 1650 From A Short Account of the History of Mathematics 4th edition 1908 by W W Rouse Ball We may consider Descartes as the first of the modern school of mathematics Ren Descartes was born near Tours on March 31 1596 and died at Stockholm on February 11 1650 thus he was a contemporary of Galileo and Desargues His father who as the name implies was of good family was accustomed to spend half the year at Rennes when the local parliament in which he held a commission as councillor was in session and the rest of the time on his family estate of Les Cartes at La Haye Ren the second of a family of two sons and one daughter was sent at the age of eight years to the Jesuit School at La Flche and of the admirable discipline and education there given he speaks most highly On account of his delicate health he was permitted to lie in bed till late in the mornings this was a custom which he always followed and when he visited Pascal in 1647 he told him that the only way to do good work in mathematics and to preserve his health was never to allow anyone to make him get up in the morning before he felt inclined to do so an opinion which I chronicle for the benefit of any schoolboy into whose hands this work may fall On leaving school in 1612 Descartes went to Paris to be introduced to the world of fashion Here through the medium of the Jesuits he made the acquaintance of Mydorge and renewed his schoolboy friendship with Mersenne and together with them he devoted the two years of 1615 and 1616 to the study of mathematics At that time a man of position usually entered either the army or the church Descartes chose the former profession and in 1617 joined the army
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