17 June 2008
[HOLBACH, Paul Henry Thiery, Baron d']. Systême de la Nature. Ou des Loix du Monde Physique & du Monde Moral. Par M. Mirabaud. London [i.e. Amsterdam: Marc-Michel Rey], 1770.
2 volumes, 8o (195 x 119 mm). (First and last leaves browned, one or two spots.) Contemporary crushed green morocco, gilt, all edges gilt (extremities lightly rubbed). Provenance: V.C. Auffret (signature volume one); 20th-century bibliographical notes on verso of front paste-down in volume one.
FIRST EDITION. Published under the late Mirabaud's name to avoid censure: "In the Systême, Holbach rejected the Cartesian mind-body dualism and attempted to explain all phenomena, physical and mental, in terms of matter in motion. He derived the moral and intellectual faculties from man's sensibility to impressions made by the external world, and saw human actions as entirely determined by pleasure and pain. He continued his direct attack on religion by attempting to show that it derived entirely from habit and custom. But the Systême was not a negative or destructive book: Holbach rejected religion because he saw it as a wholly harmful influence, and he tried to supply a more desirable alternative" (PMM 215). (2)
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