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[DESCARTES, René (1596-1650)]. Discours de la methode Pour bien conduire sa raison, & chercher la verité dans les sciences. Plus la dioptrique. Les meteores. Et la geometrie. Qui sont des essais de cete Methode. Leyden: Jan Maire, 8th June 1637.
[DESCARTES, René (1596-1650)]. Discours de la methode Pour bien conduire sa raison, & chercher la verité dans les sciences. Plus la dioptrique. Les meteores. Et la geometrie. Qui sont des essais de cete Methode. Leyden: Jan Maire, 8th June 1637.

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[DESCARTES, René (1596-1650)]. Discours de la methode Pour bien conduire sa raison, & chercher la verité dans les sciences. Plus la dioptrique. Les meteores. Et la geometrie. Qui sont des essais de cete Methode. Leyden: Jan Maire, 8th June 1637.

Ordinary 4o (202 x 145mm). Collation: a-k4 (a1r title and printer's woodcut device, verso blank, a2r text Discours de la methode, k4r divisional title La dioptrique, verso blank); A-Z Aa-Zz Aaa-Kkk4 (A1r La dioptrique text and 95 woodcut diagrams, including repeats, some full-page, V2v blank, V3r divisional title, verso blank, V4r Les météores text and 44 woodcut diagrams, including repeats, Oo4r divisional title, Oo4v author's Advertissement to the following treatise, Pp1r La géométrie text and 51 woodcut diagrams, including repeats, Fff3v author's Advertissement to the tables, Fff4r Table Des principales difficultez, Qui sont expliquées en la dioptrique, Hhh2r table to Météores, Kkk1r table to Géométrie, Kkk3r errata, Kkk3v French royal privilege and colophon, Kkk4r Dutch States General privilege, verso blank). 264 leaves. Woodcut initials. (Some staining in places.) Contemporary South-Netherlandish calf gilt, fillets on sides and spine, arms of the Belgian princely family DE LIGNE (but here band argent, not gules), coronet surmount and wreath surround, blue edges, original endpapers, (slightly rubbed, upper outer corners restored); morocco folding case.

Provenance: ? Albert-Henri, prince de Ligne (binding), who according to père Jacob "estoit très versé dans la lecture des bons livres" (Guigard II, 322) -- Cardinal Jean-Baptiste de Belloy (engraved armorial bookplate, cf Olivier 107), 1709-1808, Archbishop of Paris 1802, author of Mandement qui ordonne des prières pour l'heureux succès du voyage de sa Sainteté le Pape Pie VII, venant à Paris and Mandement qui ordonne des prières publiques à l'occasion du sacre de sa Majesté l'Empéreur (1804) -- "HD" (bookplate), sold at Ader Picard Tajan, Paris, 21 October 1981, lot 5, to -- The Garden Collection (Haven O'More bookplate), sold at Sotheby's New York 9th November 1989, lot 106 -- purchased through Quaritch's at the sale.

FIRST EDITION OF THE FUNDAMENTAL MODERN WORK IN PHILOSOPHY AND SCIENCE. In Cartesianism knowledge is acquired through intelligence, not erudition; truth is thought, je pense donc je suis (p. 34). The Discours is an autobiographical text, while explaining Descartes' philosophy of method and metaphysical doctrine. It also includes remarks on cardiovascular physiology, the first discussion by a prominent scholar of Harvey's discovery of the circulation of blood. La Dioptrique treats the laws of refraction, Les Météores the elementary laws of matter and movement in the physical universe. La Géométrie demonstrates his application of algebra to geometry, which forms the basis for post-Euclidean development. From Descartes' propositions in logic, metaphysics and physics stems most subsequent philosophical and scientific thought: Locke, Leibniz, Newton, etc.

Although the book is not so exceptional in contemporary vellum or calf, it is very rarely found with early identifiable provenance, particularly aristocratic ownership. FINE COPY. PMM 129; Horblit 24; Dibner 81; Norman 621.
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