From Big Medical Encyclopedia

DESCARTES René (Descartes Rene, latinizirovanny option — Renatus Carte s i u s, 1596 — 1650) — the French philosopher and the scientist.


An education was got at Jesuit school by La Fleche in Anjou. Till 1621 did military service, was involved in Thirty years' war and visited many countries of Europe where came into contacts with philosophers and scientists. Then lodged in Paris and worked on problems of philosophy and others modern to it sciences, aiming to give to science, including philosophy, the nature of strict, complete and reliable knowledge.

In 1629 moved to Holland — at that time the advanced capitalist country where conducted philosophical researches and scientific research of e of field of mathematics, physics, a cosmogony, meteorology and physiology. Penetration of the scientific and philosophical ideas of R. Descartes into a goal. high fur boots drew upon it prosecutions from Protestant theologians. In 1649 by the invitation of the Swedish queen he moved to Stockholm.

R. Descartes formulated the initial ideas of analytical geometry, in mechanics — a number of fundamental laws, including conservation law of number of the movement and the Snell refraction law of light, based a scientific cosmogony, trying to explain with the natural reasons emergence and development of Solar system.

R. Descartes conducted the scientific research in close connection with philosophy, reform in a cut, in his opinion, the doubt in reliability of all knowledge shall precede. In doubt he saw means for release from doubtful knowledge and justification of the reliable truth. Thereby R. Descartes formulated the theory of knowledge of rationalism.

Scientific knowledge of the world in general it built on the basis of essentially new subject and practical (first of all production) the relations to the nature as to the volume of activity. The capitalist system of public division of labor developing at that time defined this relation. Its generations — production cooperation and a manufactory — were based first of all on use «the skill enclosed in dead forces of nature» (K. Marx and F. Engels. Compositions, t. 46, p. II, p. 83 — 84). Soon knowledge becomes the main force of «skill», the era of the «technological use of science» (in the same place, p. 206) which defined ways of receiving, registration and use of scientific knowledge begins. In such system of knowledge the nature is represented as set of the cash properties, space geometrically, as a body, all parts to-rogo are among themselves in direct mechanical interaction. R. Descartes explained any change of their situation with whirls, or the indignations, waves running on «ether» of corporal substance.

— a part of corporal natural substance, elements cover an organism for R. Descartes (as the smallest, indivisible atoms, and their organized combinations — blood, bodies etc.) interact with each other under the influence of external influences, and life — process, in Krom he saw unity of constant direct reactions of a body to these influences.

Therefore each vital action of an organism, according to Descartes, has the reflex nature. The scheme of a reflex arc developed by it — its major result fiziol, researches. He considered that one nerves are conductors to a brain of the centripetal impulses caused by external irritants, others — conductors of centrifugal impulses from a brain to the members set in motion.

Life of plants, animals and the person is differently difficult and is in direct dependence on their various organization. However all nature has the same regulatory principles, the same order of life, and, except laws of mechanics, «there is no need to imagine to itself other reason», forcing particles of blood to connect and form «animal spirits» (esprits animaux), setting in motion body organs. All manifestations of human life, except thinking, can be understood if it is possible to explain interaction of all elements of the difficult mechanical device by what the human body was presented to R. Descartes. Thinking to eat ability of soul, but not a body. Effectiveness of thinking — in free creation of what is only potentially inherent physical. to a body of the nature, and the thinking in principle cannot be explained with steric interaction of corporal structures whatever difficult they were. Spiritual in general (and thinking as its manifestation in particular) there is a special substance existing along with corporal. Thus, R. Descartes, considering the world as complete mechanical system, understanding that the thinking cannot be presented it the investigation (or a part), for the first time formulated a problem of the relation of thinking to life as psycho-physical. a problem also solved it dualistic, postulating independence of spiritual and material substances.

R. Descartes considered the person as a being, in Krom the mechanism of a body is connected to non-material and not extended soul. Between a body and soul there is an interaction, physical. body to-rogo is strobiloid gland. Having sharply separated in the person soul — the conceiving substance — from a body, R. Descartes developed purely somatic theory of pain, hunger and thirst. It strictly distinguished the corporal movements and the phenomena in which these states, from the feelings accompanying them in the person are expressed. The theory of sight relying on optics, and also fiziol had the same somatic character developed by it fiziol. theory of memory. At the same time he highlighted that the phenomena of memory do not demand participation of consciousness. The mechanistic principle of the fiziol, views R. Descartes accurately formulated in the treatise «About the Person». Being front lines for the time a physiologist, R. Descartes considered that complexity of a structure of bodies of animals does not interfere with the assumption that they are formed by the nature operating according to exact laws of mechanics. According to R. Descartes, a body of an animal and the person — the automatic machine; its motive power is warmth, and its source — the processes of combustion happening in a body without flame. He considered the center of this warmth heart. In the treatise «About the Person», having repeated the theory of blood circulation of U. Garvey, it increased its mechanistic character a little. Mechanistic character has also the sketch of the theory of digestion outlined by it. The scheme of a reflex arc developed for the first time was a wreath its independent fiziol, researches.

Considering the person (with fiziol. the points of view) as the car, unilaterally R. Descartes's views, mechanistic from the modern point of view, in the conditions of 17 century were progressive. At the same time mechanistic definition of an object of knowledge logically led it to the conclusions which resolutely influenced further development of philosophy and science of Modern times. According to R. Descartes, each person sees himself existing so far as he realizes the fact of the thinking (cogito, of ergo sum — I think, therefore I exist). Proceeding from it, he claimed that not in experience with objects, bodies, and in thinking, in his intuitively clear and clear «ideas» (concepts) the person scoops initial determination and the principles of creation of evidential knowledge — «the inborn ideas» and the deduction which is making out results of an inductive research to degree of intuitive (direct and cognizable) clearness. It R. Descartes laid the foundation of philosophical rationalism (Latin of rationalis — reasonable). Further development of philosophy of Modern times to a certain extent was defined by fight of rationalism and empiricism, and the mechanistic principles developed by R. Descartes formed the basis of many natural-science concepts, including and in medicine.

See also Behaviourism , Vitalism , Lamarckism .

Works: Compositions, Kazan, 1914; The Chosen works, the lane with fr., M., 1950.

Bibliography: Marx K. and Engels F. Compositions, 2nd prod., t. 2, page 138, M., 1955; Asmous B. F. Descartes, M., 1956.

V. F. Asmus, F. T. Mikhaylov.