17 June 2008
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. Leiden: Jan Maire, 1637.
4o (202 x 154 mm). Woodcut printer's device on title, numerous text illustrations and diagrams. (Some light browning and spotting.) Contemporary calf (spine ends and corners restored, some light rubbing); morocco pull-off case. Provenance: Lessing J. Rosenwald (small morocco monogram bookplate); given to the Library of Congress (bookplate and duplicate stamp).
FIRST EDITION OF DESCARTES' FIRST PUBLISHED WORK, THE FOUNDATION OF ALL MODERN SCIENTIFIC AND PHILOSOPHIC THOUGHT. In the first part Descartes sets out his method of inquiry, and then illustrates it in three essays on optics, meteorology and geometry. "Descartes's purpose is to find the simple indestructible proposition which gives to the universe and thought their order and system. Three points are made: the truth of thought, when thought is true to itself (thus, cogito, ergo sum), the inevitable elevation of its partial state in our finite consciousness to its full state in the infinite existence of God, and the ultimate reduction of the material universe to extension and local movement" (PMM). Descartes's discussion of Harvey's discovery of the circulation of blood was the first mention made of it by a prominent foreign scholar. Descartes was called to Stockholm in 1649 as philosopher to Queen Christina, but did not survive his first winter and died there in 1650. Dibner, Heralds of Science, 81; Grolier/Horblit 24; Guibert, Bib. Descartes, 1; Norman 621; NLM/Krivatsky 3114; PMM 129.
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