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Biographical Sketches

Rene Descartes
And his contributions to the field of cognitive science
A brief overview  

Contributions to Cognitive Science  

Rene Descartes is considered by many to be the father of modern philosophy. He provided many contributions to the field of cognitive science that included a broad array of disciplines including mathematics and philosopy. He is widely recognized for his quote, "I think, therefore I am," and his manifestation of the Cartesian coordinates. His lifes work was being performed during the scientific revolution, and thus had to suppress some of his work that defended the work of Copernicus and which Galileo was being condemned by the inquistion for. Descartes changed the way rational thinkers believed then and continues to influence people now and his contributions to mathematics and philosophy provided a fundamental basis for how people view them in todays modern world  

Descartes most popular and powerful quote was "I think, therefore I am." This was in an attempt to explain skepticism and its relation to hypothesis, that there was an evil genius trying to deceive him. This hypothesis challenged the belief in everything, from reason itself, to the reality of the physical world, to even the most trivial of facts that we hold true everyday. This hypothesis explains that said demon tricks him into believing in a false sense of reality everyday, and no such reality truly exists. This theory, however, was later rejected.  

Descartes was also associated with the advent of mathematics. He is known for several of his contributions, the primary one being the Cartesian coordinates which unifies algebra and geometry in his book La Geometrie. Recently, Descartes work has been reinforced by American linguist Noah Chomsky. Chomsky applies Descartes view that central ideas must be innate to "how children quickly develop the ability to generate an infinite numbr of new, semantically correct sentences," which is part of Descartes Cartesian philosophy. Descartes devised the Cartesian coordinate system during an illness. As he lay in bed he noticed a fly flickering amongst the ceiling tiles. It was this that made him realize that he could explain where the fly was in relation to the vast array of tiles on the ceiling. Explaining where a position on a graph is is the essence of what the coordinate system does for us.  

Descartes was contributing to the field of cognitve science hundred of years before it was officially established.. He was a predecessor to the discipline of mathematics as seen by his coordinate system, a vital part of cognitive science, and to linguistics, as is seen by noted linguist Noah Chomsky implementing Descartes ideas into his work in his respective field. It is fair to say that Descartes is as an integral part of cognitive science as anyone, despite the fact that he didnt ever know it.  

Biography of Rene Descartes  

Rene Descartes was born March 31, 1596 in La Haye, Touraine, France. La Haye, the town he lived in is now named Descartes. He received his education at a Jesuit college in France that he enrolled in when he was eight. He studied the basic classics. This showed Descartes how much there was about and in the world that he didnt know. He received a law degree from a different university in France and continued to enlist in a military school, where he continues with his studies in mathematics, the only subject that he believed was a foundation for any basis of thinking. This began a short period of travelling after which he joined the army. He joined the army in 1620 and continued to travel for the next eight years, after which he decided to settle down. His choice of a place to settle down in was Holland, a country in which he had travelled through before. It was then he began his writings. He wrote for a number of years before moving to Sweden at the request of the Queen. After several months in the freezing climate he died in the year1649.