Rene Descartes, French mathematician

Rene Descartes, French mathematician

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Credit: HUMANITIES & SOCIAL SCIENCES LIBRARY/NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Rene Descartes (1596-1650), French mathematician and philosopher. The circular French inscription calls him a knight and gives his self-styled title of Lord of Perron, and his coat-of-arms. The Latin inscription or motto is a quote from the Roman poet Ovid: "bene qui latuit, bene vixit" - He who hid well, lived well. This was the epitaph that Descartes chose to be inscribed on his tombstone. Descartes died at the age of 53 from pneumonia. He is most famous for the co-ordinate Cartesian geometry that bears his name, and his philosophy, summed up by: "I think, therefore I am". Drawing by the Dutch painter Frans Hals (c.1582-1666), and the Dutch engraver Gerard Edelinck (1621-1674).

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