René Descartes was born in La Haye en Touraine, France, on March 31, 1596. He attended a Jesuit college and studied law for two years, but he soon gave up formal academics to immerse himself in “the great book of the world.” In 1618, he joined the army, where he became interested in military engineering and expanded his knowledge of physics and mathematics. Then, one night in 1619, he experienced what he described as divine visions, which inspired him to create a new mathematics-based philosophy. He spent the next 30 years writing a series of works that radically transformed mathematics and philosophy and, by the time of his death in 1650, he was recognized as one of Europe’s greatest philosophers and scientists.
In Simply Descartes, Professor Kurt Smith offers the general reader an opportunity to get better acquainted with the philosophy of the man who, as much as any individual, helped shape our contemporary way of thinking. Written in simple, nonacademic language and based on the best recent scholarship, Simply Descartes is the ideal introduction to Descartes’ life and work—from the famous Cogito (“I think, therefore I am”) to the development of analytic geometry, to the nature of God.
Not to mention which, if you’ve ever wondered whether all living things are nothing more than fancy machines, or whether life is really a Matrix-like dream, you’ll be amazed to discover that a 17th-century philosopher was asking (and answering) the same things!