Discussion Questions Concening Descartes' Correspondence
with Princess Elisabeth
Today, we are going to focus on Princess Elisabeth's correspondence
with Descartes. Descartes served as both a tutor and spiritual
advisor for Elisabeth. In her correspondence with the famous
philosopher, Elisabeth presses him to explain ideas that she
finds obscure. We will be asking how serious her objections
to Descartes' philosophy are.
Descartes and Elisabeth discuss the question of whether the
interaction of mind and body makes sense. We will discuss
this issue in class. To prepare, consider what Elisabeth's
arguments against this idea are: what does she find problematic
in this idea? Then, consider Descartes' response to Elisabeth.
What exactly is it? Do you think it is adequate?
Be prepared to defend one of the two views.
REMEMBER: I am going to divide the class
into defenders of Descartes and defenders of Elisabeth. So
come to class prepared to express your view and to defend it
against the other side.