What Someone May Have Whispered in Elisabeth’s Ear

Vlad Alexandrescu

in Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy Volume VI

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199659593
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745218 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy

What Someone May Have Whispered in Elisabeth’s Ear

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This chapter looks at Elisabeth’s arguments in the framework of Descartes’ program to collect valuable objections from members of the Republic of Letters. The analysis of Elisabeth’s first letters reveals astonishing resemblances between Elisabeth’s position and the one Gassendi had expressed in his Fifth Objections. In order to explain this fact, the chapter proposes that Samuel Sorbière, present in the Low Countries since 1642, was an agent of Gassendi’s who worked his way into Queen of Bohemia’s court at the Hague and who, during several encounters with Princess Elisabeth, explained to her Gassendi’s views and worked with her on a Gassendist interpretation of Meditation Six. The chapter also shows that later on, Sorbière was to depart from a number of Gassendist positions and that Descartes’ ideas eventually permeated his philosophical writings.

Keywords: René Descartes; Elisabeth of Palatine; Pierre Gassendi; Samuel Sorbière; meditations; Republic of Letters; mind-body union

Chapter.  11471 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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