Last Updated on December 20, 2022
René Descartes was a French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist who is considered one of the founders of modern Western philosophy.
He is best known for his philosophical treatise “Meditations on First Philosophy,” in which he introduced the concept of “cogito, ergo sum” (I think, therefore I am), which became a fundamental principle of modern Western philosophy.
Descartes was born on March 31, 1596, in La Haye en Touraine, France. He studied law and mathematics at the University of Poitiers and later traveled throughout Europe, studying a variety of subjects including science, mathematics, and philosophy. In 1637, he published “Meditations on First Philosophy,” which laid the foundations for his philosophical system and became one of the most influential works in the history of Western thought.
In addition to his contributions to philosophy, Descartes also made significant contributions to the field of mathematics. He is credited with the development of the Cartesian coordinate system, which is used to represent points in two or three dimensions, and he also made important contributions to the field of calculus.
Descartes passed away on February 11, 1650, in Stockholm, Sweden, but his ideas and contributions continue to be studied and debated by philosophers and scientists to this day.
These René Descartes quotes continue to inspire and challenge us to think more deeply about ourselves and the world around us. They offer valuable insights and encourage us to use our minds to their full potential.
René Descartes Quotes
1. “The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest men of past centuries.” – René Descartes
2. “It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well.” – René Descartes
3. “The first thing I have to do is to inquire into what I am, that is to say, into what I am capable of.” – René Descartes
4. “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.” – René Descartes
5. “I think, therefore I am.” – René Descartes
6. “Common sense is the best distributed thing in the world, for everyone 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.” – René Descartes
7. “I suppose therefore that all things I see are illusions; I believe that nothing has ever existed of everything my lying memory tells me. I think I have no senses. I believe that body, shape, extension, motion, location are functions. What is there then that can be taken as true? Perhaps only this one thing, that nothing at all is certain.” – René Descartes
8. “Conquer yourself rather than the world.” – René Descartes
9. “Except our own thoughts, there is nothing absolutely in our power.” – René Descartes
10. “To know what people really think, pay attention to what they do, rather than what they say.” – René Descartes
11. “The greatest minds are capable of the greatest vices as well as of the greatest virtues.” – René Descartes
12. “And thus, the actions of life often not allowing any delay, it is a truth very certain that, when it is not in our power to determine the most true opinions we ought to follow the most probable.” – René Descartes
13. “I desire to live in peace and to continue the life I have begun under the motto ‘to live well you must live unseen” – René Descartes
14. “Masked, I advance.” – René Descartes
15. “But in my opinion, all things in nature occur mathematically.” – René Descartes
16. “You just keep pushing. You just keep pushing. I made every mistake that could be made. But I just kept pushing.” – René Descartes
17. “To live without philosophizing is in truth the same as keeping the eyes closed without attempting to open them.” – René Descartes
18. “There is nothing more ancient than the truth.” – René Descartes
19. “In order to improve the mind, we ought less to learn than to contemplate.” – René Descartes
20. “Divide each difficulty into as many parts as is feasible and necessary to resolve it.” – René Descartes
21. “For I found myself embarrassed with so many doubts and errors that it seemed to me that the effort to instruct myself had no effect other than the increasing discovery of my own ignorance” – René Descartes
22. “Each problem that I solved became a rule which served afterward to solve other problems” – René Descartes
23. “Let whoever can do so deceive me, he will never bring it about that I am nothing, so long as I continue to think I am something.” – René Descartes
24. “At last I will devote myself sincerely and without reservation to the general demolition of my opinions.” – René Descartes
25. “With me, everything turns into mathematics.” – René Descartes
26. “…it is a mark of prudence never to place our complete trust in those who have deceived us even once.” – René Descartes
27. “Because reason…is the only thing that makes us men, and distinguishes us from the beasts, I would prefer to believe that it exists, in its entirety, in each of us…” – René Descartes
28. “The reading of all good books is indeed like a conversation with the noblest men of past centuries who were the authors of them, nay a carefully studied conversation, in which they reveal to us none but the best of their thoughts.” – René Descartes
29. “Good sense is the most equitably distributed of all things because no matter how much or little a person has, everyone feels so abundantly provided with good sense that he feels no desire for more than he already possesses.” – René Descartes
30. “Some years ago I was struck by the large number of falsehoods that I had accepted as true in my childhood, and by the highly doubtful nature of the whole edifice that I had subsequently based on them. I realized that it was necessary, once in the course of my life, to demolish everything completely and start again right from the foundations if I wanted to establish anything at all in the sciences that was stable and likely to last.” – René Descartes
31. “But I cannot forget that, at other times I have been deceived in sleep by similar illusions; and, attentively considering those cases, I perceive so clearly that there exist no certain marks by which the state of waking can ever be distinguished from sleep, that I feel greatly astonished; and in amazement, I almost persuade myself that I am now dreaming.” – René Descartes
32. “It is not enough to have a good mind. The main thing is to use it well.” – René Descartes
33. “So blind is the curiosity by which mortals are possessed, that they often conduct their minds along unexplored routes, having no reason to hope for success, but merely being willing to risk the experiment of finding whether the truth they seek lies there.” – René Descartes
34. “I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am.” – René Descartes
35. “I am accustomed to sleep and in my dreams to imagine the same things that lunatics imagine when awake.” – René Descartes
36. “It is best not to go on for great quest for truth , it will only make you miserable” – René Descartes
37. “But what then am I? A thing that thinks. What is that? A thing that doubts, understand, affirms, denies, wills, refuses, and that also imagines and senses.” – René Descartes
38. “Nothing is more fairly distributed than common sense: no one thinks he needs more of it than he already has.” – René Descartes
39. “When I turn my mind’s eye upon myself, I understand that I am a thing which is incomplete and dependent on another and which aspires without limit to ever greater and better things…” – René Descartes
40. “Reading good books is like engaging in conversation with the most cultivated minds of past centuries who had composed them, or rather, taking part in a well-conducted dialogue in which such minds reveal to us only the best of their thoughts.” – René Descartes
41. “The dreams we imagine when we are asleep should not in any way make us doubt the truth of the thoughts we have when we are awake.” – René Descartes
42. “Whenever enyone has offended me, I try to raise my soul so high that the offense cannot reach it.” – René Descartes
43. “And what more am I? I look for aid to the imagination. [But how mistakenly!] I am not that assemblage of limbs we call the human body; I am not a subtle penetrating air distributed throughout all these members; I am not a wind, a fire, a vapor, a breath or anything at all that I can image. I am supposing all these things to be nothing. Yet I find, while so doing, that I am still assured that I am a something.” – René Descartes
44. “Whence then come my errors? They come from the sole fact that since the will is much wider in its range and compass than the understanding, I do not restrain it within the same bounds, but extend it also to things which I do not understand: and as the will is of itself indifferent to these, it easily falls into error and sin, and chooses the evil for the good, or the false for the true.” – René Descartes
45. “Good sense is, of all things among men, the most equally distributed; for every one thinks himself so abundantly provided with it, that those even who are the most difficult to satisfy in everything else, do not usually desire a larger measure of this quality than they already possess.” – René Descartes
46. “This result could have been achieved either by his [God] endowing my intellect with a clear and distinct perception of everything about which I would ever deliberate, or simply by impressing the following rule so firmly upon my memory that I could never forget it: I should never judge anything that I do not clearly and distinctly understand.” – René Descartes
47. “The first precept was never to accept a thing as true until I knew it as such without a single doubt.” – René Descartes
48. “I had become aware, as early as my college days, that no opinion, however absurd and incredible can be imagined, that has not been held by one of the philosophers.” – René Descartes
49. “For to be possessed of a vigorous mind is not enough; the prime requisite is rightly to apply it.” – René Descartes
50. “It is thus quite certain that the constitution of the true religion, the ordinances of which are derived from God, must be incomparably superior to that of every other.” – René Descartes
51. “We do not describe the world we see, we see the world we can describe.” – René Descartes
52. “The only thing we have power over in the universe is our own thoughts.” – René Descartes
53. “By ‘God’, I understand, a substance which is infinite, independent, supremely intelligent, supremely powerful, and which created both myself and everything else […] that exists. All these attributes are such that, the more carefully I concentrate on them, the less possible it seems that they could have originated from me alone. So, from what has been said it must be concluded that God necessarily exists.” – René Descartes
54. “Doubt is the origin of wisdom.” – René Descartes
55. “Whenever anyone has offended me, I try to raise my soul so high that the offense cannot reach it.” – René Descartes
56. “The only thing that I know, is that I know nothing” – René Descartes
57. “An optimist may see a light where there is none, but why must the pessimist always run to blow it out?” – René Descartes
58. “I know that I exist; the question is, What is this ‘I’ that ‘I’ know.” – René Descartes
59. “The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries.” – René Descartes
60. “Everything is self-evident.” – René Descartes
What Is the René Descartes’ Philosophy About Self?
In his philosophical treatise “Meditations on First Philosophy,” Descartes sought to establish a foundation for knowledge that was certain and indubitable. He believed that in order to do this, it was necessary to doubt everything that could possibly be doubted, including the existence of the external world and the reliability of our senses.
One of the key ideas that Descartes developed in his philosophy was the concept of “cogito, ergo sum” (I think, therefore I am). This famous phrase expresses the idea that our own existence can be known through the act of thinking, regardless of any external evidence or sensory information.
According to Descartes, the fact that we are able to doubt our own existence proves that we must exist, because there must be some entity doing the doubting.
Descartes’ philosophy also emphasized the importance of the individual self and the role of the mind in understanding the world.
He believed that the mind was separate from the body and that it was capable of understanding abstract concepts and ideas through the use of reason. He argued that the mind was the source of all knowledge and that it was possible to arrive at certain truths through the use of reason and deduction.
Overall, Descartes’ philosophy about the self was centered on the idea that the mind is the primary source of knowledge and that our own existence can be known through the act of thinking.
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