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Confucius “Kong Qui or K’ung Fu-tzu”

Confucius (551 B.C. to 479 B.C.), also known as Kong Qui or K’ung Fu-tzu, was a Chinese
philosopher, teacher and political figure. His teachings, preserved in the Analects, focused on creating
ethical models of family and public interaction and setting educational standards. After his death,
Confucius became the official imperial philosophy of China, which was extremely influential during the
Han, Tang and Song dynasties. Confucianism is the worldview on politics, education and ethics taught by
Confucius and his followers in the fifth and sixth centuries B.C. Although Confucianism is not an
organized religion, it does provide rules for thinking and living that focus on love for humanity, worship
of ancestors, respect for elders, self-discipline and conformity to rituals.
As of the fourth century B.C., Confucius was regarded as a sage who had deserved greater
recognition in his time. By the second century B.C., during China’s first Han Dynasty, his ideas became
the foundation of the state ideology. Today Confucius is widely considered one of the most influential
teachers in Chinese history. The philosophies are still followed by many people living in China today and
has influenced thinking in Japan, Korea and Vietnam. Confucius’ philosophy of education focused on the
"Six Arts": archery, calligraphy, computation, music, chariot-driving and ritual. To Confucius, the main
objective of being an educator was to teach people to live with integrity. Through his teachings, he
strove to resurrect the traditional values of benevolence, propriety and ritual in Chinese society.
Little is known of Confucius’ childhood. Records of the Historian, written by Ssu-ma Chi’en (born 145
B.C.; died 86 B.C.) offers the most detailed account of Confucius’ life. However, some contemporary
historians are skeptical as to the record’s accuracy, regarding it as myth, not fact.
According to Records of the Historian, Confucius was born into a royal family of the Chou
Dynasty. Other accounts describe him as being born into poverty. What is undisputed about Confucius’
life is that he existed during a time of ideological crisis in China.Confucius died on November
21, 479 B.C. in Qufu, China, a year after losing his son, Tzu-lu, in battle. At
the time of his death, Confucius was convinced that his teachings had not
made a significant impact on Chinese culture, even though his teachings
would go on to become the official imperial philosophy of China. His followers
held a funeral and established a mourning period in his honor.
René Descartes

René Descartes, (born March 31, 1596, La Haye, Touraine, France—died

February 11, 1650, Stockholm, Sweden), French mathematician, scientist,
and philosopher. Because he was one of the first to abandon
scholastic Aristotelianism, because he formulated the first modern version
of mind-body dualism, from which stems the mind-body problem, and because
he promoted the development of a new science grounded in observation and
experiment, he has been called the father of modern philosophy. Applying an
original system of methodical doubt, he dismissed apparent knowledge
derived from authority, the senses, and reason and erected new epistemic
foundations on the basis of the intuition that, when he is thinking, he exists;
this he expressed in the dictum “I think, therefore I am” (best known in its Latin
formulation, “Cogito, ergo sum,” though originally written in French, “Je pense,
donc je suis”). He developed a metaphysical dualism that distinguishes
radically between mind, the essence of which is thinking, and matter, the
essence of which is extension in three dimensions.
Descartes’s metaphysics is rationalist, based on the postulation of innate
ideas of mind, matter, and God, but his physics and physiology, based on
sensory experience, are mechanistic and empiricist.
Although Descartes’s birthplace, La Haye (now Descartes), France, is
in Touraine, his family connections lie south, across the Creuse River in
Poitou, where his father, Joachim, owned farms and houses in Châtellerault
and Poitiers. Because Joachim was a councillor in the Parlement of Brittany
in Rennes, Descartes inherited a modest rank of nobility. Descartes’s mother
died when he was one year old. His father remarried in Rennes, leaving him in
La Haye to be raised first by his maternal grandmother and then by his great-
uncle in Châtellerault. Although the Descartes family was Roman Catholic, the
Poitou region was controlled by the Protestant Huguenots, and Châtellerault,
a Protestant stronghold, was the site of negotiations over the Edict of
Nantes (1598), which gave Protestants freedom of worship in France following
the intermittent Wars of Religion between Protestant and Catholic forces in
France. Descartes returned to Poitou regularly until 1628.
In 1606 Descartes was sent to the Jesuit college at La Flèche, established in
1604 by Henry IV (reigned 1589–1610). At La Flèche, 1,200 young men were
trained for careers in military engineering, the judiciary, and government
administration. In addition to classical studies, science, mathematics, and
metaphysics—Aristotle was taught from scholastic commentaries—they
studied acting, music, poetry, dancing, riding, and fencing. In 1610 Descartes
participated in an imposing ceremony in which the heart of Henry IV, whose
assassination that year had destroyed the hope of religious tolerance in
France and Germany, was placed in the cathedral at La Flèche.
In 1614 Descartes went to Poitiers, where he took a law degree in 1616. At
this time, Huguenot Poitiers was in virtual revolt against the young King Louis
XIII (reigned 1610–43). Descartes’s father probably expected him to enter
Parlement, but the minimum age for doing so was 27, and Descartes was only
20. In 1618 he went to Breda in the Netherlands, where he spent 15 months
as an informal student of mathematics and military architecture in the
peacetime army of the Protestant stadholder, Prince Maurice (ruled 1585–
1625). In Breda, Descartes was encouraged in his studies of science and
mathematics by the physicist Isaac Beeckman (1588–1637), for whom he
wrote the Compendium of Music (written 1618, published 1650), his first
surviving work.
Descartes spent the period 1619 to 1628 traveling in northern and southern
Europe, where, as he later explained, he studied “the book of the world.”
While in Bohemia in 1619, he invented analytic geometry, a method of solving
geometric problems algebraically and algebraic problems geometrically. He
also devised a universal method of deductive reasoning, based on
mathematics, that is applicable to all the sciences. This method, which he
later formulated in Discourse on Method (1637) and Rules for the Direction of
the Mind (written by 1628 but not published until 1701), consists of four rules:
(1) accept nothing as true that is not self-evident, (2) divide problems into their
simplest parts, (3) solve problems by proceeding from simple to complex, and
(4) recheck the reasoning. These rules are a direct application of
mathematical procedures. In addition, Descartes insisted that all key notions
and the limits of each problem must be clearly defined.
Descartes also investigated reports of esoteric knowledge, such as the claims
of the practitioners of theosophy to be able to command nature. Although
disappointed with the followers of the Catalan mystic Ramon Llull (1232/33–
1315/16) and the German alchemist Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von
Nettesheim (1486–1535), he was impressed by the German mathematician
Johann Faulhaber (1580–1635), a member of the mystical society of
the Rosicrucians.
Descartes shared a number of Rosicrucian goals and habits. Like the
Rosicrucians, he lived alone and in seclusion, changed his residence often
(during his 22 years in the Netherlands, he lived in 18 different places),
practiced medicine without charge, attempted to increase human longevity,
and took an optimistic view of the capacity of science to improve the human
condition. At the end of his life, he left a chest of personal papers (none of
which has survived) with a Rosicrucian physician—his close friend Corneille
van Hogelande, who handled his affairs in the Netherlands. Despite
these affinities, Descartes rejected the Rosicrucians’ magical and mystical
beliefs. For him, this period was a time of hope for a revolution in science. The
English philosopher Francis Bacon (1561–1626), in Advancement of
Learning (1605), had earlier proposed a new science of observation and
experiment to replace the traditional Aristotelian science, as Descartes himself
did later.
In 1622 Descartes moved to Paris. There he gambled, rode, fenced, and went
to the court, concerts, and the theatre. Among his friends were the
poets Jean-Louis Guez de Balzac (1597–1654), who dedicated his Le Socrate
chrétien (1652; “Christian Socrates”) to Descartes, and Théophile de
Viau (1590–1626), who was burned in effigy and imprisoned in 1623 for
writing verses mocking religious themes. Descartes also befriended the
mathematician Claude Mydorge (1585–1647) and Father Marin
Mersenne(1588–1648), a man of universal learning who corresponded with
hundreds of scholars, writers, mathematicians, and scientists and who
became Descartes’s main contact with the larger intellectual world. During this
time Descartes regularly hid from his friends to work, writing treatises, now
lost, on fencing and metals. He acquired a considerable reputation long before
he published anything.
At a talk in 1628, Descartes denied the alchemist Chandoux’s claim that
probabilities are as good as certainties in science and demonstrated his own
method for attaining certainty. The Cardinal Pierre de Bérulle (1575–1629)—
who had founded the Oratorian teaching congregation in 1611 as a rival to
the Jesuits—was present at the talk. Many commentators speculate that
Bérulle urged Descartes to write a metaphysics based on the philosophy of St.
Augustine as a replacement for Jesuit teaching. Be that as it may, within
weeks Descartes left for the Netherlands, which was Protestant, and—taking
great precautions to conceal his address—did not return to France for 16
years. Some scholars claim that Descartes adopted Bérulle as director of
his conscience, but this is unlikely, given Descartes’s background and beliefs
(he came from a Huguenot province, he was not a Catholic enthusiast, he had
been accused of being a Rosicrucian, and he advocated religious tolerance
and championed the use of reason).