Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"If it's Truth you're looking for, Dr. Tyree's philosophy class is right down the hall."

Today is the 414th birthday of Rene Descartes!  Perhaps best known as the cogito ergo sum guy, the works of Descartes were rooted in methodic doubt: grinding one's own beliefs and sensory input up against rigourous skepticism.  Only by pounding away the falsehoods of irrational thought could one attempt to discover Truth.

More importantly (sorry, philosophy majors), the guy kinda invented analytic geometry, laid the foundation for modern calculus, discovered the law of reflection (and first published the law of refraction), and devised exponential notation.  For a guy who spent most of his time thinking his basic senses were lying to him, he was kind of a genius.

That's why the early Library Society picked up a 1664 copy of his Principia Philosophiae.  Before Descartes' Principia Philosophiae, European colleges were teaching physics with the works of Aristotle.   Think about that the next time you see a middle school complaining about thirty-year old civics books (not that I can remember a teacher ever getting past WWII, anyway).

How to get young males interested in physics:
put Wisdom in a tight breastplate and have her show some midriff.

FACTS: The CSO has suspended operations, but the concerts scheduled for the Library Society this spring are still going to happen.  The first one is Friday, April 9th.  Tickets are $15, available though the CLS.  Also, Gordon Rhea is giving a lecture here on April 15th.  There's no cover, and if you like War-Between-the-States history, you should be there.  Call 843.723.9912, or email us at

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