Giulia Belgioioso

I “rimedi dell’animaµ nelle lettere Descartes-Elisabetta (1645-1647)

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Keywords: Descartes, Elizabeth, Remedies of the Soul, Union of Mind and Body, Passions de l’Âme

In the letters addressed to Elizabeth in the two-year period 1645-46 Descartes developed the “remedies of the soulµ as a cure for the cause (namely, passions) of physical ailments by resorting to the strong images of the tragedies, which we particularly enjoy when the passions that they excite in us are stronger. The gratification the soul feels while crying, when it watches theatrical performances featuring miserable and gloomy actions, mainly comes from the fact that it seems to perform a virtuous action in feeling compassion for those afflicted. As in theater, so in life what gives “blissµ to the soul is its ability to remain a master of the passions that it feels “moving in itselfµ.

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