(urth) Hethor, Descartes and the "paracoita"

James Machin jfmachin at hotmail.com
Tue Mar 21 08:19:46 PST 2006

I'm a new poster, so please ignore if I'm covering old, old ground. I've 
searched the archives but can't find any previous reference to this...

I recently came across a passage in a book I'm reading (a biography of Kant) 
about Descartes’ personal "automaton". The following excerpt from an article 
in the Daily Telegraph gives a good summation of the story:

The great philosopher went on a sea voyage to Sweden, telling people he was 
travelling with his daughter Francine. As the journey went on, the girl 
never appeared, and curious sailors finally entered Descartes’ cabin. They 
found only a mechanical doll, which horrified them so much that they threw 
her overboard. 

Of course, this scenario of the mechanical doll stowed in a cabin instantly 
reminded me of Hethor's lost "paracoita". Presumably, this is intentional on 
Wolfe's part...?

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