The Correspondence between Princess Elizabeth and Descartes Revisited: The Countess of Horne and the Epistolae Edition

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Abstract

Before the publication of the correspondence between Descartes and Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia by Clerselier in 1657, the philosophically and mathematically interesting letters exchanged between them circulated widely in manuscript. These are the first two letters by Descartes, elaborating on the Princess’ question on “la force qu’a l’âme de mouvoir le corps”, the two mathematical letters to the Princess, and finally Descartes’ letters on morals and the passions. Elizabeth’s part of the correspondence was not published by Clerselier, nor did it circulate in manuscript, but it has nevertheless been preserved in a handwritten copy. I will discuss its provenance refuting a recently proposed hypothesis. The second part of my article is devoted to the mystery of the Latin Epistolae edition (1668). The circulation of the two mathematical letters supplies new information on the publishing history of the Latin translation of the first two volumes of Descartes’ correspondence published by Clerselier, a vexed question in Cartesian scholarship.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLes Passions de l’âme et leur réception philosophique
EditorsGuilia Belgioioso, Vincent Carraud
Place of PublicationTurnhout
PublisherBrepols Publishers
Pages149–167
ISBN (Electronic)978-2-503-58472-0
ISBN (Print)978-2-503-58452-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020

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