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Name: René Descartes

Time Period: 1596 -- 1650

Quote: "I think, therefore I am."

Brief Description: René Descartes was a French rational philosopher and a mathematician. He was the one who first said the popular statement "I think, therefore I am" (actually his words were "cogito, ergo sum"). His idea behind that statement is that since he is consciously aware and thinking, he must exist in some way. He had a theory called Cartesian dualism. Cartesian dualism is the idea that the mind and body have a division between them, that is, the mind can exist without the body. Descartes also believes that in order to be true to oneself, you must first know yourself and to concentrate within the self regardless of outside forces.

Current Relevance: One of the main things to learn from René Descartes is that we should look within ourselves for happiness, and not worry about how we compare to others. Just because Mr. Jones down the street got a brand new car does not mean you have to, or just because a co-worker got the promotion and you did not does not mean you are worth any less. His philosophy also teaches us that even if someone has a handicap to physical disability they may still have a very sharp mind, per the Cartesian dualism theory.

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