Posted: June 21st, 2022

PHIL 1301 Introduction To Philosophy


What is Elisabeth asking Descartes about clarification?

Was his response based on your reading?

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Are you convinced that Descartes provided an adequate answer to your question?

Your opinion on why Descartes provided an adequate answer?


Elisabeth from Bohemia requests Descartes to clarify and explain the relationship that exists between the body, and the mind.

Descartes was requested to explain the relationship between the body and mind. She said that she considers the relationship between them material, while the mind is immaterial.

She questions Descartes about how an immaterial substance could act on a physical substance.

She asks further and asks how immaterial substances can act on material substances.

Descartes, a great philosopher, answered Elisabeth’s query by saying that he believed that the body and soul are one.

He wrote “Passions of Soul”, a dedication to her.

He stated that God is the only thing that can save us all.

He says that the relationship between the body and the soul is a philosophy called dualism.

While the body and mind perform different functions, it is united as one entity (Shapiro-Lisa).

The body is responsible for the actions, movements and work that go into them.

It allows us to carry out all our actions and do the daily activities.

The primary function of the mind, however, is to think.

Descartes said that everything one experiences inanimate bodies is part of the body. However, anything which doesn’t belong to the body belongs to the soul.

The soul is where our thoughts and passions are stored. Therefore, the brain and body interact with each other through the pineal gland (Descartes, Rene).

Descartes did not convince Elisabeth. His reply to the letter stated that he was philosophical and that he could not convince her.

Descartes describes the principles of metaphysics, which is essential for understanding God.

Refer to

The Passions and Other Late Philosophical Writings.

Oxford University Press 2015.

“Elisabeth the Princess of Bohemia.”

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