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Théorie des Quatre Mouvemens et des Destinées générales . Prospectus et Annonce de la Découverte
'Leipzig' (Lyons): n.p., 1808. Octavo, with a folding table; some sporadic staining; contemporary sheep, flat spine gilt; a good copy. First edition of a most important book, and extremely rare. The first major work published by Fourier, it is a genuine attempt to engineer a paradise: 'Quite literally for Fourier, the ideal city was to appear on the earth' (Helen Rosenau, The Ideal City). Fourier hoped that the ideas he announced here would inspire 1000 loyal subscribers and lead to publication of a massive six-volume undertaking. Despite being disappointed in his hopes, it is 'acknowledged not simply as a pioneering exploration of the social, but also as a founding document of socialist thought' (Jones, Introduction to the Theory of the Four Movements). Although he is best remembered for his development of the 'phalange' or phalanx, an ideal community which combined the agricultural and the industrial in perfect synthesis, it is in the Théorie des Quatre Mouvemens that he expounded the bases for all of his later work with the revolutionary notion of 'passionate attraction', where the 'passions rather than reason were to be harnessed to ensure the maximum gratification of sexual, social, and other instinctual desires' (Claeys et al., Utopia). It is one of the most amazing works of social theory ever published. Famously, Fourier held that the Enlightenment faith in civilisation was nothing more than a symptom of decadence, but that this decadence is one of the required steps for the impending leap from chaos into harmony, not only for the Earth but for the whole solar system. His analysis of the impending 70,000 years of harmony is neatly summarised in the folding chart. If his mathematical predictions were not outlandish enough, the detailed asides he offers are truly astonishing. He details, for instance, his staunch belief that the Earth would form a Northern Crown similar to the Rings of Saturn which would, in turn, change the chemical balance of the seas until it became like lemonade. Naturally this would also lead to the demise of the 'horribles légions de monstres marins' which have been plaguing humanity. Fourier once humbly commented 'I alone comprehend the true plan and the means of fulfilling it'. Engels christened him an ironist.
      [Bookseller: Hordern House Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2014-07-18           Check availability:      Biblio    


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