Lecture9 - Quiz 6 Signature Course UGS 303(Fall 2009...

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1 The History and Philosophy of Astronomy (Lecture 9: Descartes) Instructor: Volker Bromm The University of Texas at Austin Department of Astronomy Signature Course UGS 303 (Fall 2009) Quiz 6: • Question: What actually is “ truth ”, as understood by modern science? Come up with a one-sentence, succinct definition! • Answer: A statement is true if it matches objective reality! Rene Descartes: The First Modern Philosopher 1596 (La Haye) – 1650 (Stockholm) • founder of modern philosophy - method of radical doubt - mind-body dualism • invented analytical geometry (Cartesian coordinates) • Importance for astronomy: - mechanistic universe - infinite universe Descartes: Timeline and Context • setting the intellectual stage for Newton • younger contemporary of Galileo and Kepler Descartes
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2 Descartes: Geography of his Life School in La Fleche (1606-14) • newly established elite school, run by Jesuits • Curriculum: - Latin - scholastic philosophy - state-of-the-art mathematics A Restless Early Life • 1615- 16: University in Poitiers (law degree) • 1618: joins Dutch army (as engineer) • 1619: joins Bavarian army (30 Years War) • 1625-28: lives in Paris • Also: extensive travel throughout this period Descartes in Paris (1625-28) • Paris: the hotspot of the Age!
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3 Descartes in Paris: Centralization of Power • Cardinal Richelieu (1585-1642) - rise in power - becomes Chief Minister - creates centralized (absolutistic) French State - founds Academie Francaise (“guardian” of French language)
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