Descartes: A Study Of His Philosophy

Anthony Kenny. Descartes: A Study of His Philosophy.  Thoemmes Press. 1968. 242pp.


Rene Descartes was thirty-two years younger than Shakespeare and forty-six years older than Newton.  He was born in 1596 in the village in Touraine that is now called La Haye-Descartes.  His mother died when he was a year old, leaving him “a dry cough and a pale complexion.”  He was a sickly child, expected to die young.  When he went to school he was dispensed from early morning exercises and awarded a private room, where he acquired a lifelong habit of meditating in bed.  From his eleventh to his nineteenth year he studied classics and philosophy at the newly founded Jesuit college of La Fleche.  He always recalled with respect the talents and devotion of his teachers, but he regarded their scholastic doctrines at first with suspicion and later with contempt.  Among all his lessons, only mathematics really delighted him “on account of the certainty and clarity of its reasoning.”