124+ Best Rene Descartes Quotes: Exclusive Selection

René Descartes was a French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist. Profoundly inspirational Rene Descartes quotes will get you through anything when the going gets tough and help you succeed in every aspect of life.

Famous Rene Descartes Quotes

Regard this body as a machine which, having been made by the hand of God, is incomparably better ordered than any machine that can be devised by man, and contains in itself movements more wonderful than those in any machine. … it is for all practical purposes impossible for a machine to have enough organs to make it act in all the contingencies of life in the way in which our reason makes us act. – Rene Descartes

This result could have been achieved either by his [God] endowing my intellect with a clear and distinct perception of everything about which I would ever deliberate, or simply by impressing the following rule so firmly upon my memory that I could never forget it: I should never judge anything that I do not clearly and distinctly understand. – Rene Descartes

And I shall always hold myself more obliged to those by whose favour I enjoy uninterrupted leisure than to any who might offer me the most honourable positions in the world. – Rene Descartes

The principal effect of the passions is that they incite and persuade the mind to will the events for which they prepared the body. – Rene Descartes

Wonder is the first of all the passions. – Rene Descartes

Because reason…is the only thing that makes us men, and distinguishes us from the beasts, I would prefer to believe that it exists, in its entirety, in each of us. – Rene Descartes

There is nothing so strange and so unbelievable that it has not been said by one philosopher or another. – Rene Descartes

Before examining this more carefully and investigating its consequences, I want to dwell for a moment in the contemplation of God, to ponder His attributes in me, to see, admire, and adore the beauty of His boundless light, insofar as my clouded insight allows. Believing that the supreme happiness of the other life consists wholly of the contemplation of divine greatness, I now find that through less perfect contemplation of the same sort I can gain the greatest joy available in this life. – Rene Descartes

We do not describe the world we see, we see the world we can describe. – Rene Descartes

At last I will devote myself sincerely and without reservation to the general demolition of my opinions. – Rene Descartes

I experienced in myself a certain capacity for judging which I have doubtless received from God, like all the other things that I possess; and as He could not desire to deceive me, it is clear that He has not given me a faculty that will lead me to err if I use it aright. – Rene Descartes

Give me extension and motion and I will construct the universe. – Rene Descartes

Every man is indeed bound to do what he can to promote the good of others, and a man who is of no use to anyone is strictly worthless. – Rene Descartes

Instead I ought to be grateful to Him who never owed me anything for having been so generous to me, rather than think that He deprived me of those things or has taken away from me whatever He did not give me. – Rene Descartes

Conquer yourself rather than the world. – Rene Descartes

All is to be doubted. – Rene Descartes

Intuitive knowledge is an illumination of the soul, whereby it beholds in the light of God those things which it pleases Him to reveal to us by a direct impression of divine clearness. – Rene Descartes

Science is practical philosophy. – Rene Descartes

A state is better governed which has few laws, and those laws strictly observed. – Rene Descartes

We call infinite that thing whose limits we have not perceived, and so by that word we do not signify what we understand about a thing, but rather what we do not understand. – Rene Descartes

The only thing that I know, is that I know nothing – Rene Descartes

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. – Rene Descartes

These long chains of perfectly simple and easy reasonings by means of which geometers are accustomed to carry out their most difficult demonstrations had led me to fancy that everything that can fall under human knowledge forms a similar sequence; and that so long as we avoid accepting as true what is not so, and always preserve the right order of deduction of one thing from another, there can be nothing too remote to be reached in the end, or to well hidden to be discovered. – Rene Descartes

Neither divine grace nor natural knowledge ever diminishes freedom. – Rene Descartes

I have concluded the evident existence of God, and that my existence depends entirely on God in all the moments of my life, that I do not think that the human spirit may know anything with greater evidence and certitude. – Rene Descartes

The two operations of our understanding, intuition and deduction, on which alone we have said we must rely in the acquisition of knowledge. – Rene Descartes

The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries. – Rene Descartes

And thereby make ourselves, as it were, the lords and masters of nature. – Rene Descartes

Intuition is the undoubting conception of a pure and attentive mind, which arises from the light of reason alone, and is more certain than deduction. – Rene Descartes

The only secure knowledge is that I exist. – Rene Descartes

As I considered the matter carefully it gradually came to light that all those matters only were referred to mathematics in which order and measurements are investigated, and that it makes no difference whether it be in numbers, figures, stars, sounds or any other object that the question of measurement arises. I saw consequently that there must be some general science to explain that element as a whole which gives rise to problems about order and measurement, restricted as these are to no special subject matter. This, I perceived was called ‘universal mathematics’. – Rene Descartes

It is not enough to have a good mind. The main thing is to use it well. – Rene Descartes

Nothing is more fairly distributed than common sense: no one thinks he needs more of it than he already has. – Rene Descartes

But in my opinion, all things in nature occur mathematically. – Rene Descartes

He who hid well, lived well. – Rene Descartes

You just keep pushing. You just keep pushing. I made every mistake that could be made. But I just kept pushing. – Rene Descartes

The principal use of prudence, of self-control, is that it teaches us to be masters of our passions, and to so control and guide them that the evils which they cause are quite bearable, and that we even derive joy from them all. – Rene Descartes

When writing about transcendental issues, be transcendentally clear. – Rene Descartes

By ‘God’, I understand, a substance which is infinite, independent, supremely intelligent, supremely powerful, and which created both myself and everything else […] that exists. All these attributes are such that, the more carefully I concentrate on them, the less possible it seems that they could have originated from me alone. So, from what has been said it must be concluded that God necessarily exists. – Rene Descartes

With me, everything turns into mathematics. – Rene Descartes

An optimist may see a light where there is none, but why must the pessimist always run to blow it out? – Rene Descartes

The greatest minds, as they are capable of the highest excellencies, are open likewise to the greatest aberrations; and those who travel very slowly may yet make far greater progress, provided they keep always to the straight road, than those who, while they run, forsake it. – Rene Descartes

In the matter of a difficult question it is more likely that the truth should have been discovered by the few than by the many. – Rene Descartes

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the self-same well from which your laughter rises was often-times filled with your tears. – Rene Descartes

Nothing comes out of nothing. – Rene Descartes

Everything is self-evident. – Rene Descartes

For I found myself embarrassed with so many doubts and errors that it seemed to me that the effort to instruct myself had no effect other than th eincreasing discovery of my own ignorance – Rene Descartes

Some years ago I was struck by the large number of falsehoods that I had accepted as true in my childhood, and by the highly doubtful nature of the whole edifice that I had subsequently based on them. I realized that it was necessary, once in the course of my life, to demolish everything completely and start again right from the foundations if I wanted to establish anything at all in the sciences that was stable and likely to last. – Rene Descartes

In God there is an infinitude of things which I cannot comprehend, nor possibly even reach in any way by thought; for it is the nature of the infinite that my nature, which is finite and limited, should not comprehend it. – Rene Descartes

I was convinced that our beliefs are based much more on custom and example than on any certain knowledge. – Rene Descartes

Reason is nothing without imagination. – Rene Descartes

The entire method consists in the order and arrangement of the things to which the mind’s eye must turn so that we can discover some truth. – Rene Descartes

For how do we know that the thoughts which occur in dreaming are false rather than those others which we experience when awake, since the former are often not less vivid and distinct than the latter? – Rene Descartes

It is possible that I am dreaming right now and that all of my perceptions are false. – Rene Descartes

But I cannot forget that, at other times I have been deceived in sleep by similar illusions; and, attentively considering those cases, I perceive so clearly that there exist no certain marks by which the state of waking can ever be distinguished from sleep, that I feel greatly astonished; and in amazement I almost persuade myself that I am now dreaming. – Rene Descartes

Truths are more likely to be discovered by one man than by a nation – Rene Descartes

So far, I have been a spectator in this theater which is the world, but I am now about to mount the stage, and I come forward masked. – Rene Descartes

How do we know that anything really exists, that anything is really the way it seems ot us through our senses? – Rene Descartes

Although my knowledge grows more and more, nevertheless I do not for that reason believe that it can ever be actually infinite, since it can never reach a point so high that it will be unable to attain any greater increase. – Rene Descartes

So blind is the curiosity by which mortals are possessed, that they often conduct their minds along unexplored routes, having no reason to hope for success, but merely being willing to risk the experiment of finding whether the truth they seek lies there. – Rene Descartes

I suppose therefore that all things I see are illusions; I believe that nothing has ever existed of everything my lying memory tells me. I think I have no senses. I believe that body, shape, extension, motion, location are functions. What is there then that can be taken as true? Perhaps only this one thing, that nothing at all is certain. – Rene Descartes

I am thing that thinks: that is, a things that doubts,affirms, denies, understands a few things, is ignorant of many things, is willing, is unwilling, and also which imagines and has sensory perceptions. – Rene Descartes

Good sense is, of all things among men, the most equally distributed; for every one thinks himself so abundantly provided with it, that those even who are the most difficult to satisfy in everything else, do not usually desire a larger measure of this quality than they already possess. – Rene Descartes

If I simply refrain from making a judgment in cases where I do not perceive the truth with sufficient clarity and distinctness, then it is clear that I am behaving correctly and avoiding error. – Rene Descartes

Mathematics is a more powerful instrument of knowledge than any other that has been bequeathed to us by human agency. – Rene Descartes

Thus each truth discovered was a rule available in the discovery of subsequent ones. – Rene Descartes

I desire to live in peace and to continue the life I have begun under the motto ‘to live well you must live unseen – Rene Descartes

Whatever I have up till now accepted as most true and assured I have gotten either from the senses or through the senses. But from time to time I have found that the senses deceive, and it is prudent never to trust completely those who have deceived us even once. – Rene Descartes

And as it is the most generous souls who have most gratitude, it is those who have most pride, and who are most base and infirm, who most allow themselves to be carried away by anger and hatred. – Rene Descartes

Sensations are nothing but confused modes of thinking. – Rene Descartes

Omnia apud me mathematica fiunt. – Rene Descartes

It’s the familiar love-hate syndrome of seduction: I don’t really care what it is I say, I care only that you like it. – Rene Descartes

Let whoever can do so deceive me, he will never bring it about that I am nothing, so long as I continue to think I am something. – Rene Descartes

The nature of matter, or body considered in general, consists not in its being something which is hard or heavy or coloured, or which affects the senses in any way, but simply in its being something which is extended in length, breadth and depth. – Rene Descartes

How can you be certain that your whole life is not a dream? – Rene Descartes

Bad books engender bad habits, but bad habits engender good books. – Rene Descartes

To live without philosophizing is in truth the same as keeping the eyes closed without attempting to open them. – Rene Descartes

I think; therefore I am. – Rene Descartes

The only thing we have power over in the universe is our own thoughts. – Rene Descartes

I am accustomed to sleep and in my dreams to imagine the same things that lunatics imagine when awake. – Rene Descartes

I know that I exist; the question is, What is this ‘I’ that ‘I’ know. – Rene Descartes

The chief cause of human errors is to be found in the prejudices picked up in childhood. – Rene Descartes

Whenever anyone has offended me, I try to raise my soul so high that the offense cannot reach it. – Rene Descartes

Travelling is almost like talking with those of other centuries. – Rene Descartes

Each problem that I solved became a rule, which served afterwards to solve other problems. – Rene Descartes

It is best not to go on for great quest for truth , it will only make you miserable – Rene Descartes

For to be possessed of a vigorous mind is not enough; the prime requisite is rightly to apply it. – Rene Descartes

Neither the true nor the false roots are always real; sometimes they are imaginary; that is, while we can always imagine as many roots for each equation as I have assigned, yet there is not always a definite quantity corresponding to each root we have imagined. – Rene Descartes

Divide each difficulty into as many parts as is feasible and necessary to resolve it. – Rene Descartes

There is a difference between happiness, the supreme good, and the final end or goal toward which our actions ought to tend. For happiness is not the supreme good, but presupposes it, being the contentment or satisfaction of the mind which results from possessing it. – Rene Descartes

Now therefore, that my mind is free from all cares, and that I have obtained for myself assured leisure in peaceful solitude, I shall apply myself seriously and freely to the general destruction of all my former opinions. – Rene Descartes

Few look for truth; many prowl about for a reputation of profundity by arrogantly challenging whichever arguments are the best. – Rene Descartes

Variant: When it is not in our power to follow what is true, we ought to follow what is most probable. – Rene Descartes

There is nothing so far removed from us as to be beyond our reach, or so hidden that we cannot discover it. – Rene Descartes

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. – Rene Descartes

There is nothing more ancient than the truth. – Rene Descartes

The object of music is a Sound. The end; to delight, and move various Affections in us. – Rene Descartes

But possibly I am something more than I suppose myself to be. – Rene Descartes

Illusory joy is often worth more than genuine sorrow. – Rene Descartes

I can doubt everything, except one thing, and that is the very fact that I doubt. Simply put – I think, therefore I am – Rene Descartes

Doubt is the origin of wisdom – Rene Descartes

When I consider this carefully, I find not a single property which with certainty separates the waking state from the dream. How can you be certain that your whole life is not a dream? – Rene Descartes

We never understand a thing so well,and make it our own, as when we have discovered it for ourselves. – Rene Descartes

Desire awakens only to things that are thought possible. – Rene Descartes

There is a great difference between mind and body insomuch as body is by nature always divisible, and the mind is entirely indivisible. – Rene Descartes

In philosophy, when we make use of false principles, we depart the farther from the knowledge of truth and wisdom exactly in proportion to the care with which we cultivate them, and apply ourselves to the deduction of diverse consequences from them, thinking that we are philosophizing well, while we are only departing the farther from the truth; from which it must be inferred that they who have learned the least of all that has been hitherto distinguished by the name of philosophy are the most fitted for the apprehension of truth. – Rene Descartes

The first precept was never to accept a thing as true until I knew it as such without a single doubt. – Rene Descartes

Situations in life often permit no delay; and when we cannot determine the course which is certainly best, we must follow the one which is probably the best. This frame of mind freed me also from the repentance and remorse commonly felt by those vacillating individuals who are always seeking as worthwhile things which they later judge to be bad. – Rene Descartes

In order to improve the mind, we ought less to learn, than to contemplate. – Rene Descartes

Perfect numbers like perfect men are very rare. – Rene Descartes

Just as we believe by faith that the greatest happiness of the next life consists simply in the contemplation of this divine majesty, likewise we experience that we derive the greatest joy of which we are capable in this life from the same contemplation, even though it is much less perfect. – Rene Descartes

Except our own thoughts, there is nothing absolutely in our power. – Rene Descartes

My third maxim was to try always to conquer myself rather than fortune, and to change my desires rather than the order of the world, and generally to accustom myself to believing that there is nothing entirely in our power except our thoughts, so that after we have done our best regarding things external to us, everything in which we do not succeed is for us absolutely impossible. – Rene Descartes

A person has two passions for love and abhorrence. A big disposition to excessiveness has just a love, because it is more ardent and stronger. – Rene Descartes

He lives well who is well hidden. – Rene Descartes

The senses deceive from time to time, and it is prudent never to trust wholly those who have deceived us even once. – Rene Descartes

I am indeed amazed when I consider how weak my mind is and how prone to error. – Rene Descartes

What then is the source of my errors? They are owing simply to the fact that, since the will extends further than the intellect, I do not contain the will within the same boundaries; rather, I also extend it to things I do not understand. Because the will is indifferent in regard to such matters, it easily turns away from the true and the good; and in this way I am deceived and I sin. – Rene Descartes

It must not be thought that it is ever possible to reach the interior earth by any perseverance in mining: both because the exterior earth is too thick, in comparison with human strength; and especially because of the intermediate waters, which would gush forth with greater impetus, the deeper the place in which their veins were first opened; and which would drown all miners. – Rene Descartes

On the one hand I have a clear and distinct idea of myself, in so far as I am a thinking, non-extended thing; and on the other hand I have a distinct idea of body, in so far a this is simply an extended, non-thinking thing. And, accordingly, it is certain that I am really distinct from my body, and exist without it. – Rene Descartes

God alone is the author of all the motions in the world. – Rene Descartes

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. – Rene Descartes

It is certain that I am really distinct from my body, and can exist without it. – Rene Descartes

The mind effortlessly and automatically takes in new ideas, which remain in limbo until verified or rejected by conscious, rational analysis. – Rene Descartes

Common sense is the most widely shared commodity in the world, for every man is convinced that he is well supplied with it. – Rene Descartes

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