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French Philosopher, Physiologist, and Mathematician
René Descartes, who was born in La Haye (now Descartes), France and died in Stockholm, Sweden, has been called the founder of modern philosophy, but he is also honored as a mathematician and physiologist. Descartes's father, Joachim, who owned farms and houses in Châtellerault and Poitiers, was a councilor in the Parliament of Brittany in Rennes. Descartes's mother died when he was only one year old. After his father remarried, Descartes remained in La Haye where his maternal grandmother and other relatives raised him. In 1606 Descartes was sent to the Jesuit college at La Flèche, which had been established in 1604 by Henry IV. The curriculum included classical studies, science, mathematics, metaphysics, music, poetry, dancing, riding, and fencing. Students were prepared for careers in military engineering, law, and government administration. Philosophy was taught in the scholastic Aristotelian manner that Descartes would eventually challenge.