Leipzig: Friedrich Heckel, 1734.
1st Edition. Hardcover. Very Good. Item #003852
Folio (323 x 200 mm). , 1-452 (i.e. 448); , 1-164, , 165-386; , 1-534 pp., bound without the leaf "Dem Buchbinder" as usual. Engraved frontispiece portrait of the author by Bernigrot fil after I.W. Stör in vol. I, half-title in vol. I only as called for, engraved vignettes on title-pages and dedication leaves, engraved headpieces, woodcut initials and tailpieces, 2 large folding engraved maps and 123 engraved sheets of plates (25 folding). Uniform contemporary calf, spines with 6 raised bands richly gilt in compartments and with gilt-lettered labels, red-dyed edges, marbled endpapers (extremities worn, boards scratched and rubbed, corners scuffed and bumped, joints partly cracked but holding firm, chipping to spine heads and foots). Text little browned (a few gatherings stronger); occasional minor spotting; several plates heavily browned as usual due to paper used, large folding plate "Tab. II" in vol. III with long clearn tear (no loss). Provenance: C. Colombini (early ownership inscription to first flyleaves). A very good set in contemporary bindings. Collated and complete. ----
FIRST COLLECTED EDITION, rarely found complete with the portrait as here. Edited by Fredrik Hekelius. The work, and specially vol. I "Principia rerum naturalium" maybe the most important Swedish work in natural philosophy. Swedenborg, best known for his contributions to natural philiosophy, religion and mysticism, was appointed assessor-extraordinary to the Swedish board of mines in 1716.
In the first volume enitlted Principia Rerum Naturalium Swedenborg presents a model of the origin and evolution of our solar system. He was thus the first to formulate a nebular hypothesis, even before Kant and Laplace.
"In the chapter entitled 'Solar and Planetary Nebular Matter' Swedenborg describes a theory of the evolution of the solar system somewhat within the context of his scheme of elementary and finite particles. In characteristic fashion, he reasons that the planets must have their origin near the sun [...] Swedenborg suggests his theory of planetary evolution as a general mechanism to explain the appearance of new stars. For as the planetary material leaves the solar vortex the star becomes visible to the observer. [...] Swedenborg's structure of elements does not fit, in any exact sense, the models of present-day elementary particle physics. Furthermore, his theory of planetary evolution, based on the elements seems vague and lacking in empirical support. However, Swedenborg's work should be viewed in the context of the contemporary natural philosophy, and most noteworthy in this regard is the essential agreement of Swedenborg's rational cosmology with the previously developed Cartesian world view. Both Descartes and Swedenborg proposed a filled universe or plenum of several elements. Both men described mechanisms for planetary evolution, with special emphasis on the vortex as a primary motion in nature. Yet Swedenborg's work did contain elements of originality. He worked hard to describe the 'first natural point' as the connection between the physical and nonphysical worlds. Swedenborg saw this starting point as logically important to a world system and representative of the absolutely deepest parts of nature. The Swedenborgian system of elements is more complex than the three-element system of Descartes. While further complexity does not necessarily imply progress, Swedenborg's scheme of elements with their inner and outer parts, and their construction through the intermediate steps of the finites, is an attempt at greater differentiation of levels and motion in nature. [...] Perhaps most intriguing is Swedenborg’s theory of planetary evolution. A prominent theory of planetary generation is the Kant-Laplace nebular hypothesis of the gradual evolution of planets from the sun. Both Swedenborg and Descartes proposed theories which resemble this hypothesis but whereas Descartes’ planets developed from their own interior suns. Swedenborg’s planets broke off from the belt of matter which spread from the sun. Therefore Swedenborg’s theory is closer to the nebular hypothesis and was published some 20 years before Kant presented his thesis in 1754. The Swedish physical chemist Svante Arrhenius noted this priority in his work on the history of cosmology, but Swedenborg is not always mentioned in connection with the origins of the nebular hypothesis. There are limitations in Swedenborg’s work on natural philosophy. His style of writing is often lacking in clarity, at least from the viewpoint of the modern reader. Perhaps more surprising is the fact that despite his admiration for Newton, Swedenborg does not incorporate Newton’s methods or ideas into his work, and his attempts at mathematization of concepts are unproductive. Furthermore, the Cartesian influence is so clearly evident in the Principia that it is often difficult to delineate the extensions and modifications which are Swedenborg’s own. Yet these shortcomings do not erase the value of the original contributions he did make" (Baker, pp. 444-46).
"History testifies that he anticipated many scientific developments far ahead of his time." (Hoover). Vol. II contains a detailed study on the metallurgy of copper and brass. According to Darmsädter, vol. III contains the first handbook of ferrous metallurgy (Darmstädter 177). The fine engraved plates in vols. II and III are arguably the best illustrations of mining technology since Agricola. Vol. II has no plate with number 27, which according to Hyde is correct. Swedenborg took a leave of absence from his position as assessor to the board of mines to oversee the printing of this work. Volume 3 deals with the metallurgy of copper, and is profusely illustrated with impressively drawn technical plates of mine operations, smelting equipment, mineral samples, etc.
Literature: G. L. Baker, Emanuel Swedenborg - An 18th century cosmologist. In: The Physics Teacher Oct. 1983); Hyde, Bibliography of Swedenborg's works p.228-30; Wheeler Gift I, 283; Ward & Carozzi 2140; Hoover 773-5; Waller 11018; DSB XIII, p.179; Stroh & Ekelöf, Kronologisk förteckning öfver Emanuel Swedenborgs skrifter 95; Parkinson, Breakthroughs, p. 151 (for the Principia volume).
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