Philosophy 202
Great Traditions of Western Thought
The Modern Period

 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.

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