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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Abstract

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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