Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Father of Modern Philosophy-Rene Descartes

Rene Descartes contributed and enhanced science as we know it today. He was able to create a shift in the way we view mathematics and how this applies to discovery within the world. His abilities lay in his mental creativity, analytical truth seeking ability, and the desire to understand the world around him. It was the right education mixed with the right circumstances and the right abilities to develop something profound.

Descartes was born in 1596 in the town of La Haye France to a Councilor in Parliament. His father sought to create the best learning environment for his son. In 1637 he published Geometry which was a blend of geometry and algebra to create something knew called Cartesian Geometry. He was also well known for three works entitled Meditations on the First Philosophy, Principles of Philosophy, and Truth in the Sciences.

Known as the The Father of Modern Philosophy he was able to reference a point in space by using two coordinates. This method became used in everything from land coordinates to graphing profits & losses. His great discovery deriving from a fly on the wall that he began to see how its position could be calculated. Taking the edges of the wall he mentally developed a graph of the entire wall to create what is known as X and Y axis in standard charts. 

He also discussed early emotions called Passions of the Soul. This was unique for its time as he moved philosophy into trying to understand human nature from a scientific point of view. It was an early argument of human cognition and separation of mind and body. He describes it as "the perceptions, sensations, or commotions of the soul which we relate particularly to the soul and are caused, maintained, and strengthened by some movement of the spirits." 

The most interesting aspect of Descartes's genius is that he changed science as we know it-a paradigm shift. Instead of Aristotelian logic he changed his whole perception to adjust science to a more mechanistic and mathematical explanation. Quantitative analysis took off. This had a systematic effect on the whole field of study and developed updated approaches to understanding. 

To understand the profound nature of changing perspective think about how a vast majority of us move through life “knowing what we know” because everyone else confirms it for us since childhood. We are like fish in a fish bowl and never know we are actually in water. By digging into the very essence of life and feeling, Descartes was able to adjust his entire vantage point. 

The nature of genius is to make connections that others cannot see. It doesn’t happen overnight but occurs through decades of deep study, reflection, and questioning everything around you. In Descartes case, you one day see a fly on the wall and everything changes. This cannot happen without connecting piece by piece of alternative information that leads up to a previously unknown conclusion. 

The most difficult aspects of a new discovery, is the ability to sell it. In some way it will be necessary to concretely draw out the conclusion, analyze it, and put it in a logical-spatial explanation that others can see. Imagine the difficulty getting someone to agree in basic political or religious arguments and then asking them to question the world around them in a new way-A near impossibility. Each person must come willingly to the conclusion and have the motivation to see the explained pieces for themselves; some will always be in doubt.

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