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The Princess and the Philosopher: Letters of Elisabeth of the Palatine to Rene Descartes,9780847692644
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The Princess and the Philosopher: Letters of Elisabeth of the Palatine to Rene Descartes

by
ISBN13:

9780847692644

ISBN10:
0847692647
Format:
Hardcover
Pub. Date:
4/1/1999
Publisher(s):
Rowman & Littlefield Pub Inc
List Price: $98.00
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Summary

For a number of years, those interested in recovering women's thought have known about Princess Elisabeth, a seventeenth-century correspondent and friend of Descartes whose questions provoked the philosopher to think more seriously about ethics and the passions. Up to now, only a few of her letters have found their way into print. This volume includes translations of all of Elisabeth's extant letters to Descartes, as well as of other materials relevant to understanding her philosophical perspective and her life. Nye has supplemented the translations with a running commentary on the historical, biographical, and intellectual context of the lettersz The letters were during a tumultuous time in European history. A devastating Thirty Years War had ruined Elisabeth's family and devastated their principality, the Palatine. On his part, Descartes was increasingly embroiled in bitter controversies surrounding his work in relatively free-thinking Holland. In her commentary, Nye shows how personal experiences energized his and Elisabeth's different views of the relation between mind and body, the existence of God, and the nature of morality. What Nye evokes, along with the thinking of an extraordinary woman, is an alternative model for philosophy, a nonadversarial form of dialogue that does not pretend to objective theorizing. Such a philosophy depends on mutual respect and trust, on concern for the other's sensibilities and views, on friendship between women and men with a common concern for human life.

Table of Contents

Preface ix
Prologue: A Terrible Grief 1(4)
The First Overtures
5(6)
Body and Soul
11(5)
The Scent of a Rose
16(5)
An Initial Disappointment
21(3)
The Uses of Metaphysics
24(6)
A Test
30(4)
The Philosophic Muse
34(4)
Doctor-Philosopher
38(10)
A Life Blessed with Happiness
48(10)
The Burdens of Civility
58(3)
A Discourse on Prudence
61(11)
The Consolations of Theology
72(5)
Traitor to the Cause
77(7)
A Silence between Friends
84(5)
Master of Passion
89(7)
A Certain Languor
96(3)
Murder in the Streets
99(3)
The Prince
102(7)
Magic Powers
109(5)
An Ungrateful Disciple
114(6)
An Accusation of Blasphemy
120(5)
A New Patroness
125(7)
The Purloined Letters
132(6)
Affairs of State
138(7)
On the Advantages of Partition and Death by Beheading
145(6)
A Royal Summons
151(7)
Reason in the Service of Sense
158(5)
In the Land of Ice and Snow
163(6)
Epilogue: The Abbess of Herford 169(6)
Notes 175(8)
Bibliography 183(2)
Index 185(2)
About the Author 187


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