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Principia Philosophiae
Woodcut printer's vignette on title & numerous woodcut diagrams in the text. 12 p.l. (the last a blank), 310 pp. 4to, cont. vellum over boards, ties gone, spine lettered in ink at head. Amsterdam: L. Elzevir, 1644. [bound after]:-. Specimina Philosophiae: seu Dissertatio de Methodo Recte regendae rationis, et veritatis in scientiis investigandae: Dioptrice, et Meteora. Ex Gallico translata, & ab Auctore perlecta, variisque in locis emendata. Woodcut printer's device on title & numerous woodcuts in the text. 8 p.l., 331 pp. 4to. Amsterdam: L. Elzevir, 1644. Very attractive copies from the library of Hermann Conring (1606-81), professor of natural history at Helmstädt who made important contributions to medicine (he was an early convert to Harvey's ideas), law, and politics. With his 19-line epigraph on Descartes on the free front endpaper and signature dated 1645. I. First edition "of this monumental system of the world, the most comprehensive of all of Descartes' works. Dedicated to his friend, Princess Elizabeth, daughter of the Elector Palatine, Frederick V, its three treatises embrace the whole of his philosophy, with the exception of the moral… "In Part I, Descartes sets out the basic principles of his investigation pursuing the methods developed in his Discourse on Method… "Part II is devoted to the nature of the physical world and the means by which we may comprehend it. Fundamental to Descartes' physical theories was his conviction that all space was occupied, space was identified with matter, all matter was infinitely extensible and infinitely divisible; within the context of this theory a vacuum was impossible as was the existence of atoms… "Also presented in Part II are Descartes' three laws of motion: the first is the conventional statement that a body at rest remains at rest until set in motion by some outside agency, and, concomitantly, that a body in motion remains so until met with resistance. His second law states that moving bodies tend to continue in a straight line; consequently, for a body to move in a circle or an arc it must be subjected to forces other than those which initially set it in motion. His third law and the seven secondary rules which he derived from it are more controversial… "Part III not only presents Descartes' conception of the structure of the world, but represents the first serious attempt at a mechanical explanation of the solar system. The Vortex Theory boldly attempted to reduce the phenomena of the universe to a single mechanical principle. 'Even after Newton had shown that the Cartesian system was impossible as a dynamical system, the theory lingered on, and for more than a generation efforts were continually being made to patch up the fabric before it finally collapsed.'-Scott, 167-168."-Roberts & Trent, Bibliotheca Mechanica, pp. 91-92. II. First Latin edition of Descartes' Discours de la Méthode; this edition contains important revisions by the author. The first edition, published in 1637, marks the starting point of the Cartesian system of natural philosophy, which stands in time between Bacon and Newton. His famous "Cogito, ergo sum" first appeared in this form in this edition. The book includes important observations on optics in the Dioptrice. Fine crisp copies. ? See Printing and the Mind of Man 129 and Horblit 24 for the first edition.
      [Bookseller: Jonathan A. Hill, Bookseller, Inc.]
Last Found On: 2016-11-25           Check availability:      Biblio    


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