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Pollot, Alphonse (ca.1602–1668)

from ENTRIES

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 January 2016

Theo Verbeek
Affiliation:
Universiteit Utrecht
Lawrence Nolan
Affiliation:
California State University, Long Beach
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Summary

Pollot (Polotti, Palotti) was born at Dronero (Piedmont), the son of a Protestant family. After the death of his father, his mother moved to Geneva, and Alphonse and his brother were sent to the Low Countries to serve in the Dutch army. Although during the siege of 's-Hertogenbosch (Bois-le-Duc) in 1629 he lost his right arm, he continued his military career until 1642, when he became attached to the court of the stadholder, Frederick-Henry of Orange, and, after the latter's death, to that of his widow, Princess Amalia. About 1650, he returned to Geneva, where he died in 1668. Pollot wrote to Descartes briefly after the publication of the Discourse on Method (1637). Although Descartes did not reply, a personal meeting must have followed, mediated possibly by Henricus Reneri. Descartes was impressed by Pollot's mathematical expertise, believing that he was one of the few to understand his Geometry (AT I 518). Later Pollot served as an intermediary between Descartes and Princess Elisabeth and advised Descartes during his conflict with Voetius. Pollot is seen as the main author of a series of objections to Descartes’ Discourse–written in the form of a letter by a certain “S.P.” (AT I 512–17; for Descartes’ reply see AT II 34–46, CSMK 96–102). Planned by Descartes as a sequel to the Discourse and coming after the objections of others, they were probably prearranged so as to cover the entire spectrum of questions discussed in the Discourse. Thus, there are questions, for example, on the cogito (e.g., why not “I breath, therefore I am”?), the animal soul, and subtle matter. Although it is likely that they were authored by Pollot, others, like Reneri and possibly even Constantijn Huygens, may have contributed as well. Pollot's unpublished copy of the Treatise on Man was one of the sources of the first edition of that work in 1662.

See also Discourse on Method; Geometry; Elisabeth, Princess of Bohemia; Reneri, Henricus; Voetius, Gysbertus

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2015

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References

Molhuysen, P. C., et al., eds. 1910–37. Nieuw Nederlandsch Biografisch Woordenboek, 10 vols. Leiden: Sijthoff (reprint, Amsterdam: Israël, 1974). http://www.biografischportaal.nl/.Google Scholar

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