The death of five-year old Francine Descartes in 1640 spurred her father, renowned philosopher, mathematician, and writer René Descartes, to construct an animatronic effigy in her likeness. For Descartes, author of Principles of Philosophy (1644), this lifeless object represented the culmination of the grief and sadness that a parent endures upon the death of a child. In the construction of something that is all at once a physical tribute, psychological emissary, and manifestation of Cartesian dualism, this historic anecdote provides a springboard for the exploration of the perceived ‘divide’ between mind and body.
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