SPINOZA, Baruch (later Benedictus de, 1632-77). Opera posthuma. [Edited by Jarrig Jellis, the long preface translated from Dutch into Latin by Lodewijk Meijer. Amsterdam: Jan Rieuwertsz], 1677.
Chancery 4o (201 x 155 mm). Collation: *-*****4 (title, preface, table of contents, divisional title to Ethica), A-Z4 Aa-Kk4 (Ethica); Ll-Zz4 Aaa-Ccc4 (Politica and De emendatione intellectus); Ddd-Zzz4 Aaaa-Mmmm4 (Epistolae et ad eas responsiones, index, divisional title and preface to Compendium), A-P4 (Compendium grammatices linguae Hebraeae, table of contents index, errata). Roman, italic and hebrew type. Woodcut title vignette, initials, illustrations. Contemporary Dutch vellum. Provenance: John Hay, Marquis of Tweeddale (18th-century engraved bookplate, the 13-shilling purchase inscription presumably his).
FIRST EDITION of Spinoza's most influential philosophical work, Ethics, the modern classic of pantheism. God is the immanent principle of the universe, undetermined or infinitely self-determined. Spinoza's thinking combined religion and science. Without it Herder and German Romanticism, Schelling and Hegel are unthinkable; also, it is only a small step from Spinoza's Deus sive Natura concept to atheism, and Benedictus was no more tolerated among Christians than Baruch among the Sephardic Jews, even in Holland.
Spinoza's correspondence among the posthumous works is particularly interesting, providing easier access to his philosophy, as well as dealing with optics, the telescope, and his views on Descartes. The least controversial of his writings, a simple Hebrew grammar composed at the request of friends, may have inspired scriptural studies among a wider audience than his metaphysical readership. This VERY FINE COPY found its way to English aristocratic shelves at an early date. Van der Linde 22; Norman 1988.