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Rene Descartes

  • French mathematician
  • Born March 31, 1596
  • Died February 11, 1650

René Descartes (US: , UK: , French: [ʁəne dekaʁt]; Latinized: Renatus Cartesius; adjectival form: Cartesian; 31 March 1596 – 11 February 1650) was a French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist. A native of the Kingdom of France, he spent about 20 years (1629–1649) of his life in the Dutch Republic after serving for a while in the Dutch States Army of Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange and the Stadtholder of the United Provinces. He is generally considered one of the most notable intellectual figures of the Dutch Golden Age.Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy (1641) continues to be a standard text at most university philosophy departments.


Everything is self-evident.




The greatest minds are capable of the greatest vices as well as of the greatest virtues.

The greatest minds are capable of the greatest vices as well as of the greatest virtues.




The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries.




The first precept was never to accept a thing as true until I knew it as such without a single doubt.




I think; therefore I am.

I think; therefore I am.




I hope that posterity will judge me kindly, not only as to the things which I have explained, but also to those which I have intentionally omitted so as to leave to others the pleasure of discovery.




I am accustomed to sleep and in my dreams to imagine the same things that lunatics imagine when awake.




One cannot conceive anything so strange and so implausible that it has not already been said by one philosopher or another.




There is nothing so strange and so unbelievable that it has not been said by one philosopher or another.




Travelling is almost like talking with those of other centuries.




Except our own thoughts, there is nothing absolutely in our power.




The two operations of our understanding, intuition and deduction, on which alone we have said we must rely in the acquisition of knowledge.




A state is better governed which has few laws, and those laws strictly observed.




When it is not in our power to follow what is true, we ought to follow what is most probable.




Whenever anyone has offended me, I try to raise my soul so high that the offense cannot reach it.

Whenever anyone has offended me, I try to raise my soul so high that the offense cannot reach it.




It is only prudent never to place complete confidence in that by which we have even once been deceived.




The senses deceive from time to time, and it is prudent never to trust wholly those who have deceived us even once.




It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well.

It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well.




If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.




Divide each difficulty into as many parts as is feasible and necessary to resolve it.

Divide each difficulty into as many parts as is feasible and necessary to resolve it.




Illusory joy is often worth more than genuine sorrow.




Nothing is more fairly distributed than common sense: no one thinks he needs more of it than he already has.




Common sense is the most fairly distributed thing in the world, for each one thinks he is so well-endowed with it that even those who are hardest to satisfy in all other matters are not in the habit of desiring more of it than they already have.




In order to improve the mind, we ought less to learn, than to contemplate.

In order to improve the mind, we ought less to learn, than to contemplate.




Perfect numbers like perfect men are very rare.




An optimist may see a light where there is none, but why must the pessimist always run to blow it out?




I am indeed amazed when I consider how weak my mind is and how prone to error.




Each problem that I solved became a rule, which served afterwards to solve other problems.




I should consider that I know nothing about physics if I were able to explain only how things might be, and were unable to demonstrate that they could not be otherwise.



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