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What was to have been Descartes’ final word on the relation between mind and body never appeared, quite possibly because he was struggling to address Elisabeth’s difficulties. When Principles of Philosophy was published in 1644, it contained only four parts of a projected six. The first four dealt with “The Principles of Human Knowledge,” “The Principles of Material Things,” “The Visible Universe,” and “The Earth.” Parts five and six were to have covered “Plants and Animals” and “Man,” but Descartes wrote, “I am not yet completely clear about all the matters I would like to deal with there.”

E lisabeth’s last letter to Descartes was written on December 4, 1649. He was in Stockholm, where he was giving lessons to Queen Christina of Sweden, a friend of Elisabeth’s. The princess said she looked forward to his return, which he expected would be after the next summer, but he caught cold and died in February, shortly after the publication of his Passions of the Soul .

Their letters had traversed many topics. It was not all mind and body. They discussed the Stoicism of Seneca ’s On the Happy Life in depth. Descartes set her a difficult problem in geometry, which she solved, though not in the way he had expected. The theological issue of the freedom of the will came up. Her remarks to him were always gracious but sometimes forthright and had the air of not taking any nonsense. She was not persuaded by his attempts to explain how God could be “the first and immutable cause” of people’s actions even when those actions were genuinely free. And when Descartes idly mused that perhaps “joy has some secret power to make fortune more favorable,” since he had noticed that he fared better at cards when he was happy, Elisabeth drily suggested that “the good luck you found…when you were inclined to joy from some other source apparently proceeded from your playing all your hands more freely, which usually makes one win.”

In psychoanalysis nothing is true except the exaggerations.

After Descartes’ death, Elisabeth asked for all her letters to be returned and refused to let them be published. The correspondence first appeared in full in 1879, almost two hundred years after her death, and in English in 2007. Without these letters, and others of hers, her philosophical gifts would have gone unnoticed. Unlike several other female thinkers of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries—including Damaris Cudworth, Catharine Trotter Cockburn, and Margaret Cavendish (wife of the horsey marquess)—Elisabeth did not write any treatises.

She continued to discuss Descartes’ work with the German philosopher G.W. Leibniz, who later observed that Descartes had “given up the game” of trying to explain how the body and soul interacted. One of Elisabeth’s sisters, the electress Sophie of Hanover, was Leibniz’s patron for many years. Sophie and Leibniz exchanged hundreds of letters, and the only one of his major philosophical works to be published in his lifetime was dedicated to her. Sophie’s daughter, Sophie-Charlotte, who became queen of Prussia, was a close friend and philosophical disciple of Leibniz. It seems that a penchant for philosophy ran in the family.

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03/02/2018
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WASHINGTON – Today, President Donald J. Trump announced his intention to nominate Peter C. Wright asassistant administrator for the Office of Land and Emergency Management (OLEM) at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Since 1999, Mr. Wright has worked at The Dow Chemical Company where he serves as managing counsel for environmental health and safety and principle counsel for all significant mergers and acquisitions. Throughout his career, Mr. Wright has provided legal support for Superfundand other remediation sites. In 2017, he was recognized with a special award for the oversight and reorganization efforts of the remediation portfolio.

WASHINGTON

“Peteris exceptionally qualified to lead the Office of Land and Emergency Management,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt . “He has the expertise and experience necessary to implement our ambitious goals for cleaning up the nation’s contaminated lands quickly and thoroughly.”

said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt

His nomination is receiving high accolades:

John Milner , Chair, American Bar Association:" Peter’s career, his selfless commitment to American Bar Association's Section of Environment, Energy, and Resourcesand the members it serves, and his well-recognized personal integrity exemplify the highest standards of the legal profession.We enthusiastically and without reservation support the consideration of Peter as Assistant Administrator for OLEM, and believe Peter will serve the office with distinction and honor."

John Milner , Chair, American Bar Association:"

Laurence Kirsch , Partner and Chair, Energy and Environmental Practice at Goodwin Procter, LLP.: "[Peter]would bring to the Assistant Administrator role a wealth of substantive knowledge and experience acquired over several decades as one of the most widely respected practitioners in this highly complex area of law. He would also bring a strong sense of practicality and fairness acquired in the trenches of environmental law, as well as his commitment to expediting accomplishment of OLEM’s important objectives."