Item #002367 Ueber das Organ der Seele. Samuel Theodor von SOEMMERRING.
Ueber das Organ der Seele.

Ueber das Organ der Seele.

Königsberg: Friedrich Nicolovius, 1796.

1st Edition. Hardcover. Very Good. Item #002367

4to (247 x 210 mm). [8] 86 [2] pp. Signatures: π4 A-K4 L2 χ2, 48 leaves. Errata on final leaf χ2r. 3 engraved plates, the first signed 'Koeck delineavit, Soemmering direxit, Lud. Schmidt scups' (the other two with the engraver's signature only), numbered Tab I, Tab I (an outline of the previous plate) and Tab II. 20th century quarter calf over marbled boards, spine titled in gilt (little rubbed, corners bumped). Text only little browned, title-page a bit soiled, browned and spotted; light dampstains to lower corner of first and final leaves and plates, foxing to final plate and final leaf. Provenance: Walter Pagel library (ownership label to front pastedown), autograph letter from Walther Riese to Walter Pagel and xerox copy of article by Riese about this work loosely inserted*. ----

Norman 1973; NLM/Blake, p. 424; Choulant-Frank p. 306; Warda, Kant, 159. FIRST EDITION. Soemmerring held to the ancient notion that the cerebral cavities were the seat of the soul. His investigation in support of this hypothesis advanced our knowledge of the anatomy of the brain and provoked important philosophical discussion. "The effect of Soemmerring's publication was sensational. But it also provoked much criticsm. It was openly rejected by others. What the profession had to say was of minor importance when compared with the comments made by two of Soemmerring's greatest contemporaries: Goethe and Kant. The work was dedicated to Kant" (Riese, p.314). Soemmerring corresponded with Kant before the publication of the book and invited him to write a response to his work. Kant's 'Bemerkungen zu Soemmerring's Ueber das Organ der Seele' were appended to a letter to Soemmering, 10 August 1795, and first printed here on pp. 81-86. Tab I is "the first correct picture of the mesial aspect of the cerebral hemispheres, a sagittal section, showing the ventricular system and its walls" (Riese, p. 312). According to Choulant it was still the best available in 1852, though Riese says that it falls far short of modern illustrations. Tab II "represents the fourth ventricle of the brain opened from above and from behind" (Choulant). The plates were drawn by Christian Koeck (1759-1825), trained by Soemmering as a scientific draughtsman. Tab I is followed by an outline plate, also labeled as Tab I; Tab II has the shaded and outline images one above the other. The outlines are keyed to the printed captions on the last leaf of letterpress.
*Laid in is a long autograph letter from Walther Riese to Pagel ('Mein Lieber Walter (ohne H.) Pagel...') dated 10 March 1966 and referring to Riese's article on the book (present as a xeroxcopy). Walther Riese, The 150 th anniversary of S. T. Soemmerring's Organ of the Soul. The reaction of his contemporaries and its significance today, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 20 (1946) pp. 310-321. (R. Gaskell, Books from the Library of Walter Pagel, Pt. II, 173).

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