London, South Kensington
23 April 2008
DESCARTES, René (1596-1650). De homine figuris, translated from French by Florentius Schuyl (1619-1669). Leiden: P. Leffen and F. Moyard, 1662. 4° (202 x 154mm). Woodcut device on title, 10 engraved plates, one with overlays showing the interior regions of the heart (one flap nearly detached), numerous engraved and woodcut illustrations in the text (a little browning and spotting). Contemporary Dutch vellum (covers a little bowed). Provenance: JOHANN FRIEDRICH BLUMENBACH (1752-1840), professor of medicine at Göttingen, the father of modern anthropology and one of the first scientists to study man as an object of natural history -- THE NORMAN COPY (book-label).
J.F. BLUMENBACH'S COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION OF THE FIRST TEXTBOOK OF PHYSIOLOGY. Originally written as a physiological appendix to the Discours this work was suppressed after the condemnation of Galileo in 1633, for fear that his mechanistic view of the human body might be considered heretical. 'Descartes considered the human body a material machine, directed by a rational soul located in the pineal body. This book was the first attempt to cover the whole field of "animal physiology"' (Garrison-Morton). Descartes understood the significance of Harvey's discovery, especially the circulatory motion of the blood, and included a long description of the circulation of blood in this work. 'Without Descartes, the seventeenth-century mechanization of physiological conceptions would have been inconceivable' (DSB). With Guibert's first state of the title. Garrison-Morton 574; Guibert, pp.196-97; Krivatsy 3120; Tchemerzine II, 798; Wellcome II, p.453; Norman 627.
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