Amsterdam: Elzevier, 1644.
1st Edition. Hardcover. Very Good. Item #003249
Principia philosophiae. Amsterdam: L. Elzevir, 1644. , 310 pp., printer's device on title, woodcut initials, several woodcut illustrations in text, some full page, bound without the blank leaves b4 and 2Q4. [Bound with:] Specimina philosophiae: seu Dissertatio de methodo recte regendae rationis, & veritatis in scientiis investigandae: Dioptrice et Meteora. Ex Gallico translata, & ab auctore perlecta, variisque in locis emendata. Amsterdam: L. Elzevier, 1644. , 331  pp., printer's device on title, woodcut initials, several woodcut illustrations and diagrams in text, 10 full page. 2 works in 1 volume. 4to (200 x 155 mm). Contemporary full vellum with yapp edges, spine lettered in manuscript, marbled pastedown, flyleaves gone (some soiling and spotting of vellum). Text generally crisp and clean with only very minor occasional spotting, some light dampstaining in places, short clean tear in two leaves, first title slightly dust-soiled at outer margins. A very-good, well-margined copy in untouched binding of its time. ----
I. FIRST EDITION OF DESCARTES' SYSTEM OF PHYSICS, in which he developed his theory of vortices. Based in part on his then unpublished work Le monde, which treated the creation and function of the universe in completely mechanistic terms, Descartes' Principia provides a systematic statement of his metaphysics and natural philosophy. The first part, De principiis cognitionis humanae (Of the Principles of Human Knowledge) deals with the nature of motion, rest, force, and action. He defines motion in Book II and distinguishes the difference between translation and 'the force that brings about this translation.' Descartes was careful in the Principia to qualify his mechanistic Copernican views with the idea that all motion is relative. "His vortical theory allowed him to argue that since the earth is at rest in its surrounding medium it remains unmoved, although it, together with its entire vortex, necessarily circles the sun" (Norman 622). Descartes' system represents a truly comprehensive look at the universe in a fundamentally new, mechanistic and non-teleological way. His vortex theory was the starting point for all serious work in physical theory in the mid-17th century, including Newton. The fourth and final part of the work contains the first scientific theory of magnetism.
René Descartes made philosophy as a method of knowledge the basis of thought. Knowledge was to be gained exclusively through deduction. In doing so, he took the first step towards the development of a natural science based on subjective certainty by introducing rational methods of knowledge independently of and at a diplomatic distance from the idea of the divine. One of the first scientific cosmogonies is contained in his work Principia philosophiae (The Principles of Philosophy) from 1644. Descartes attempted to explain gravity using mechanistic models. The necessary turbulence of clouds of matter caused by centrifugal forces, whereby the particles trapped in them should only exchange their energy in direct contact, explained planetary movements and also the formation of the world system. In contrast to the Christian view, Descartes thus removed man from the center and at the same time declared the earth to be immovable by means of linguistic convolutions. A relationship with the church between consideration and rebellion was typical of the 17th century; the latter ended at the stake for Giordano Bruno, who, like Descartes, had professed the Copernican world view. As an explanation of the origin, Descartes has God create a dense pack of matter vortices. The auxiliary construction of God as a primordial drive provided the kinetic energy that still exists today (see Mauthner).
References and Bibliography to I.: Norman 622; Guibert 118-119 nr. 1. STCN (5, i.a. BL London). BN Paris (2). Willems 1008. Guibert 104-105 nr. 1. STCN (3, i.a. BL London). BN Paris (5). Willems 1008. NLM/Krivatsy 3116; F. Mauthner, Wörterbuch der Philosophie, Leipzig 1923, pp. 288-295.
II. FIRST LATIN EDITION of the Discours de la méthode, which omits the treatise Géometrie. It includes the first appearance of the Cartesian sound-bite: 'cogito, ergo sum'. Although separate works, these two Elzevir publications often appear together.
References and Bibliography to II.: Norman 623; Guibert, p. 104; NLM/Krivatsy 3116; Tchemerzine II, p. 777; Willems 1008.
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