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Astro*Dictionary by Michael Erlewine





1 article for "Descartes, Rene"

Descartes, Rene [Astro*Index]


(1596-1650) French philosopher and mathematician. Born at La Haye (La Hay- Descartes, near Tour); died at Stockholm, Sweden.

He signed his writings with the Latinized version of his name, Renatus Cartesius. With a Jesuit education, he was devout and careful not to offend the Church: Upon learning that Galileo had been condemned for heresy, he abandoned the writing of a book in which he accepted the system of planetary motion of Copernicus. He is best known for his combining of algebra and geometry, and for his introduction of Cartesian Coordinates [wrong] (named after his Latinized surname). He also introduced the convention of using letters near the end of the alphabet (x and y) for variables, and near the beginning for constants.

[Importance for astrology is mainly negative: As a mathematician he made algebra extensive, thus making it only possible to deal with qualities by models. As a philosopher, he created the Cartesian dualism between thinking substance and material substance, making it hard to see how the material could affect the psychical. Materialism.]



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