[LA METTRIE, Julien Offray de (1709-1751)]. L'homme machine. Leiden: Elie Luzac fils, 1748.
12o (125 x 80 mm). Contemporary Dutch half vellum. Provenance: Joseph Mazzini Wheeler (19th-century signature on title-page of this and following work, and his bibliographical notes on front free endpaper).
Second edition of La Mettrie's controversial treatise which marked a culminating phase in the rise of modern materialism. He refuted Descartes' qualitative distinction, and recognized only differences of degree between man and animals and denied the existence of the soul. Due to its heretical nature, this anonymous work was ordered to be burned by the magistrates of Leiden, and La Mettrie was forced to leave Holland. "L'homme machine outlined a medical philosophy in the absolute sense of the term, springing as it did from the assumption that reliable knowledge qbout man's nature was forthcoming only from the facts and theories that the medical sciences--anatomy, physiology, biology, pathology--could furnish. The human being was for La Mettrie a highly complex 'living machine' of unique design that only those skilled in the investigation of the body's innermost secrets could hope eventually to explain ... Seen in historical perspective, both of the iatromechanistic tradition that had reached La Mettrie through Boerhaave and of the Cartesian automatist biology that had filtered down to him through numerous intermediaries" (DSB).
Three editions of L'homme machine were published by Elie Luzac fils in 1748, each with a different pagination. "The first edition was largely destroyed by the Leiden magistrates, and is therefore exceptionally rare" (Norman). Garrison-Morton 586; Wellcome III, p. 438; Norman 1270.
LA METTRIE, Julien Offray de. L'homme plante. Potsdam: Chrtien Frdric Voss, . 12o (124 x 80 mm). FIRST EDITION of "La Mettrie's attempt at a universal organic analogy, pointing out various parallel organs and vital functions in plants and in the human body" (Norman 1271). Bound at the end of the volume are two anonymously written related works: the first is entitled L'homme plus que machine (Londres [i.e. Holland], 1748), and according to Barbier was written by Le Mettrie's publisher Elie Luzac; the second is a fifth augmented edition of a work originally written by Charles Le Cne (Amsterdam 1684), entitled Etat de l'homme dans la pech originel (no place, 1740). See Barbier II, 438 and 290, respectively.