Descartes’s Correspondence and Correspondents

Theo Verbeek, Erik-Jan Bos

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Abstract

Descartes’s correspondence is an integral part of his work. Several important theories and doctrines can be known only from the correspondence, or, on the basis of the correspondence, must be qualified or can be rendered more precise. It is also through his letters that we learn about Descartes’s publishing strategies, his opinion on his contemporaries and their work, and his interest in experiments and observations. From time to time Descartes’s letters also allow us a glimpse of his daily business. In brief, the correspondence can be seen as an intellectual laboratory. This chapter examines Descartes’s voluminous correspondence and discusses a few of his correspondents. It also considers the epistolary form and content of his letters, and situates them in the context of other philosophical correspondences in this period.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Descartes and Cartesianism
EditorsStephen Nadler, Tad Schmaltz, Delphine Antoine-Mahut
Chapter3
Pages40-64
ISBN (Electronic)9780191875489
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2019

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