What did Elisabeth ask Descartes? A reading proposal of the first Letter of the Correspondence

Revista Seiscentos (forthcoming)
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In May 1643 Elisabeth of Bohemia addressed a question to Descartes which inaugurated a six-year Correspondence, until his death. He dedicates his mature metaphysical work to the Princess (Principles of First Philosophy, 1644) and writes Passions of the Soul (1649) as one of the results of the dialogue with the philosopher of Bohemia. The silencing of the last hundred years of historiography on Elisabeth of Bohemia's legacy in this epistolary exchange caused distortions and, in some cases, underpinned the bias as a rule and as the history. One of the consequences of this distortion is the interpretation according to which her first question would consist of a critique of substantial dualism. In this study I suggest an interpretation of the nature of the first question, in order to clarify the philosopher's thinking and her role in dialogue, in a comprehensive way, without subscribing to the literary paradigm of the Cartesian soliloquy, and its bias.

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