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Word Count: 422
Ren Descartes 1596-1650 is one of the most important Western philosophers of the past few centuries During his lifetime Descartes was just as famous as an original physicist physiologist and mathematician But it is as a highly original philosopher that he is most frequently read today He attempted to restart philosophy in a fresh direction For example his philosophy refused to accept the Aristotelian and Scholastic traditions that had dominated philosophical thought throughout the Medieval period it attempted to fully integrate philosophy with the new sciences and Descartes changed the relationship between philosophy and theology Such new directions for philosophy made Descartes into a revolutionary figure The two most widely known of Descartes philosophical ideas are those of a method of hyperbolic doubt and the argument that though he may doubt he cannot doubt that he exists The first of these comprises a key aspect of Descartes philosophical method As noted above he refused to accept the authority of previous philosophers - but he also refused to accept the obviousness of his own senses In the search for a foundation for philosophy whatever could be doubted must be rejected He resolves to trust only that which is clearly and distinctly seen to be beyond any doubt In this manner Descartes peels away the layers of beliefs and opinions that clouded his view of the truth But very little remains only the simple fact of doubting itself and the inescapable inference that something exists doubting namely Descartes himself His next task is to reconstruct our knowledge piece by piece such that at no stage is the possibility of doubt allowed to creep back in In this manner Descartes proves that he himself must have the basic characterisitc of thinking and that this thinking thing mind is quite distinct from his body the existence of a God the existence and nature of the external world and so on What is important
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