Descartes, René - Research Article from Encyclopedia of Religion

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Descartes, RenÉ

DESCARTES, RENÉ (1596–1650), French philosopher. Descartes is held to be the father of modern philosophy and chief architect of the modern approach to the relationship between science and religion. The scholastic tradition, already ably criticized by Descartes's time, was in effect obviated by a new, universal metaphysical construction based on the conceptual apparatus of Descartes. The entire development of European philosophy, in all its diverse tendencies, has been dependent, directly or indirectly, on the Cartesian legacy. If it is true, as Whitehead said, that European philosophy consists of footnotes to Plato, modern European philosophy, in the same sense, consists of footnotes to Descartes.

Born to a noble Roman Catholic family, Descartes was educated in the physics and metaphysics of an Aristotelian and Thomist tradition, and in medicine and law. He joined the Dutch army, and, while in the Netherlands, became...

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This section contains 1,633 words
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Descartes, René from Encyclopedia of Religion. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.