Elisabeth and Descartes Read Machiavelli in the Time of Hobbes

In Sabrina Ebbersmeyer & Sarah Hutton (eds.), Elisabeth of Bohemia : A Philosopher in Her Historical Context. Springer Verlag. pp. 109-126 (2021)
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While most scholars who have discussed the letters of Elisabeth and Descartes exchanged in 1646 on the subject of the Prince focused on Descartes, whether he was Machiavellian or not, I shall deal here more in depth with the position of Elisabeth. I shall address then four main points: the so-called “methodological” question raised by Descartes about the Prince and quickly dismissed by Elisabeth; the issue of political realism, that is one of the great themes of Machiavelli’s thought; the problem of the “good man,” namely whether and how the natural law can bind in a “wicked” world; Elisabeth’s focus on the passions against Descartes’s political and providential mereology. Finally, I shall try to draw some more general conclusions as regards the place of Elisabeth in the broader context of seventeenth century political philosophy, especially in regard to Hobbes.



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Elisabeth, Princess of Bohemia.Lisa Shapiro - 2021 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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