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50 Rene Descartes Quotes on Truth, Science, and More

Published on April 6, 2020 7:00 AM EST
50 Rene Descartes Quotes on Truth, Science, and More

These René Descartes quotes will inspire you to put on your thinking cap.

René Descartes was a scientist, philosopher, and mathematician who lived in Europe during the seventeenth century. 

50 Rene Descartes Quotes on Truth, Science, and More

Widely considered one of the leading intellectuals of the Dutch Golden Age, René Descartes was actually born in France, though he moved to the Dutch Republic after serving in the army.

Among his many achievements, Descartes is known as the father of analytical geometry. His mathematical discovery created a bridge that allowed geometric problems to be solved using algebra. In the field of science, he helped introduce skepticism to the scientific method. And his philosophical ponderings are still studied by students today. 

Read these René Descartes quotes and think about how you can apply his wisdom to your life. 

Also check out these Fyodor Dostoyevsky quotes that remind us to follow our dreams even when the road seems rough.

Wise René Descartes quotes

1. “Common sense is the most widely shared commodity in the world, for every man is convinced that he is well supplied with it.” — René Descartes

2. “It is only prudent never to place complete confidence in that by which we have even once been deceived.” — René Descartes

3. “The greatest minds are capable of the greatest vices as well as of the greatest virtues.” — René Descartes

4. “Except our own thoughts, there is nothing absolutely in our power.” — René Descartes

5. “It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well.” — René Descartes

6. “The thinking of the mind is twofold: understanding and willing.” — René Descartes

7. “When it is not in our power to determine what is true, we ought to follow what is most probable.” — René Descartes

8. “It is useful to know something of the manners of different nations, that we may be enabled to form a more correct judgment regarding our own, and be prevented from thinking that everything contrary to our customs is ridiculous and irrational, a conclusion usually come to by those whose experience has been limited to their own country.” — René Descartes

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9. “To know what people really think, pay regard to what they do, rather than what they say.” — René Descartes

10. “It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well. It is not good enough to have good talent, the main thing is to apply it well.” — René Descartes

11. “If you want to develop your mind you should think more, not repeat.” — René Descartes

12. “Control your body if you want your mind to work properly.” — René Descartes

13. “Illusory joy is often worth more than genuine sorrow.” — René Descartes

14. “A state is better governed which has few laws, and those laws strictly observed.” — René Descartes

15. “The senses deceive from time to time, and it is prudent never to trust wholly those who have deceived us even once.” — René Descartes

16. “Good sense is of all things in the world the most equally distributed, for everybody thinks he is so well supplied with it, that even those most difficult to please in all other matters never desire more of it than they already possess.” — René Descartes

René Descartes quotes about truth

17. “The very desire to seek the truth often causes people, who do not know how it should be sought correctly, to make judgments about things that they do not perceive and in that way they make mistakes.” — René Descartes

18. “If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.” — René Descartes

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19. “The dreams we imagine when we are asleep should not in any way make us doubt the truth of the thoughts we have when we are awake.” — René Descartes

20. “After that, I thought about what a proposition generally needs in order to be true and certain because, since I had just found one that I knew was such, I thought I should also know what this certainty consists in. Having noticed that there is nothing at all in the proposition “I think, therefore I am” [cogito ergo sum] which convinces me that I speak the truth, apart from the fact that I see very clearly that one has to exist in order to think, I judged that I could adopt as a general rule that those things we conceive very clearly and distinctly are all true. The only outstanding difficulty is in recognizing which ones we conceive distinctly.” — René Descartes

21. “The first precept was never to accept a thing as true until I knew it as such without a single doubt.” — René Descartes

22. “Considering that, among all those who up to this time made discoveries in the sciences, it was the mathematicians alone who had been able to arrive at demonstrations—that is to say, at proofs certain and evident—I did not doubt that I should begin with the same truths that they have investigated, although I had looked for no other advantage from them than to accustom my mind to nourish itself upon truths and not to be satisfied with false reasons.” — René Descartes

23. “I concluded that I might take as a general rule the principle that all things which we very clearly and obviously conceive are true: only observing, however, that there is some difficulty in rightly determining the objects which we distinctly conceive.” — René Descartes

24. “If I have succeeded in discovering any truths in the sciences…, I can declare that they are but the consequences and results of five or six principal difficulties which I have surmounted, and my encounters with which I reckoned as battles in which victory declared for me.” — René Descartes

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Don’t forget to also read these thoughtful Lewis Carroll quotes that will inspire you to run away with your imagination.

René Descartes quotes about science 

25. “But in my opinion, all things in nature occur mathematically.” — René Descartes

26. “Those who reason most powerfully and are the most successful at ordering their thoughts so as to make them clear and intelligible will always be best able to persuade others of what they say, even if they speak in the thickest of dialects.” — René Descartes

27. “I have always been taught to take a broad overview of things, in order to be able to deduce from them general rules, which might be applicable elsewhere.” — René Descartes

28. “Divide each difficulty into as many parts as is feasible and necessary to resolve it.” — René Descartes

29. “Each problem that I solved became a rule, which served afterwards to solve other problems.” — René Descartes

30. “If we possessed a thorough knowledge of all the parts of the seed of any animal (e.g. man), we could from that alone, be reasons entirely mathematical and certain, deduce the whole conformation and figure of each of its members, and, conversely if we.” — René Descartes

31. “Even the mind depends so much on temperament and the disposition of one’s bodily organs that, if it is possible to find a way to make people generally more wise and more skillful than they have been in the past, I believe that we should look for it in medicine. It is true that medicine as it is currently practiced contains little of much use.” — René Descartes

32. “Give me extension and motion, and I will construct the Universe.” — René Descartes

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René Descartes quotes that are motivational 

33. “You just keep pushing. You just keep pushing. I made every mistake that could be made. But I just kept pushing.” — René Descartes

34. “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” — René Descartes

35. “Hope is the desire of the soul to be convinced that the dream will come true.” — René Descartes

36. “Whenever anyone has offended me, I try to raise my soul so high that the offense cannot reach it.” — René Descartes

37. “Conquer yourself rather than the world.”— René Descartes

Also check out these mind-blowing Katherine Johnson quotes from NASA’s human computer.

Philosophical René Descartes quotes

38. “I think; therefore I am.” — René Descartes

39. “The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries.” René Descartes

40. “Everything is self-evident.” — René Descartes

41. “For the very fact that my knowledge is increasing little by little is the most certain argument for its imperfection.” — René Descartes

42. “We do not see the world we see; we see the world we can describe.” — René Descartes

43. “Gratitude is a species of love, excited in us by some action of the person for whom we have it, and by which we believe that he has done some good to us, or at least that he has had the intention of doing so.” — René Descartes

44. “I hope that posterity will judge me kindly, not only as to the things which I have explained but also to those which I have intentionally omitted so as to leave to others the pleasure of discovery.” — René Descartes

45. “I could not possibly be of such a nature as I am, and yet have in my mind the idea of a God, if God did not in reality exist.” — René Descartes

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46. “It is easy to hate, and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works. All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get.” — René Descartes

47. “I am accustomed to sleep and in my dreams to imagine the same things that lunatics imagine when awake.” — René Descartes

48. “The principal effect of the passions is that they incite and persuade the mind to will the events for which they prepared the body.” — René Descartes

49. “An optimist may see a light where there is none, but why must the pessimist always run to blow it out?” — René Descartes

50. “Thereby make ourselves, as it were, the lords and masters of nature.” — René Descartes

Did these René Descartes quotes make you think?

René Descartes is most famous for his quote, “I think, therefore I am.” This quote can be interpreted in many ways. Analytically, it is a statement that provides proof of being. If you are thinking, then you cannot doubt your existence. 

In a more metaphorical way, the quote is a source of motivation. It is saying, if you think you can do something, then you can. Do you have any dreams that you wish you could conquer but are afraid to? What if you thought you could succeed in your goals? Would having that thought give you the confidence to take the first step? 

Take today to think about what your goals are and what is holding you back from achieving them. Now here’s a thought… What if the only thing stopping you from reaching your dreams is yourself? 

Did these René Descartes quotes and sayings inspire you to put on your thinking cap? Which quote was your favorite? Let us know in the comments below. 

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    colleen S Rayburn

    September 3, 2020 at 4:39 PM

    so many it is hard to pick just one.

    but

    “Whenever anyone has offended me, I try to raise my soul so high that the offense cannot reach it”

    “Conquer yourself rather than the world”. That being said it would keep a person so busy they wouldn’t notice the noise of the world.

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