Rene Descartes was born on March 31, 1596 in La Haye, France. Rene's father derived from a good family and wanted nothing but the best for his sons and daughter. At the tender age of eight, Rene was sent to Jesuit College of La Fleche where he studied a wide variety of subjects such as Aristotelian philosophy and logic, but mainly excelled in math. As the years passed, his health began to jeopardize his studies so in 1612 Rene left Jesuit College and headed for Paris. After living in Paris, Descartes studied and then received a degree in law from University of Poitiers in 1616. Just one year later, Rene joined the army of Prince Maurice of Orange and then enlisted in the military school at Breda. Finally, after traveling all over Europe, Descartes decided to end his travels and reside in Holland in 1628 where he began to write his three famous books, Discourse on Method, Meditations on First Philosophy and Principles of Philosophy where his passion for philosophy and mathematics could shine. In my term paper, I will be focusing on specific passages from Meditations on First Philosophy, which was written in 1641. .
Meditations on First Philosophy is a discussion of metaphysics, or what is real. In these writings, he ultimately hopes to achieve absolute certainty about the nature of everything including God, the physical world, and himself. It is only with a clear and distinct knowledge of such things that he can then begin to understand his true reality. .
In order to acquire absolute certainty, Descartes must first lay a complete foundation of integrity on which to build up his knowledge. The technique he uses to lay this base is doubt. Any belief can be doubted because it is not certain, therefore making it unusable as a foundation. Descartes starts by looking at our usual sources for truth. Authority, which is churches, parents, and schools, he says, are not reliable sources for truth because time shows we all die, and that we are eventually proved wrong, much in the same way the accepted truths of science have changed dramatically over the course of history.