London: E. Flesher, H. Brome and N. Hooke, 1672.
1st Edition. Hardcover. Very Good. Item #003855
4to (204 x 148 mm). , 534,  pp. Engraved frontispiece portrait of the author, title-page printed in red and black, type-set initials, 2 engraved folding plates, small woodcut text diagrams on pp. 384 and 456, erata leaf at end, bound without blank leaf f4 of preliminaries. Signatures: A4 a-f4 (-f4) B-Z4 Aa-Zz4 Aaa-Yyy4. Bound in contemporary French calf, gilt-decorated spine with 5 raised bands and gilt-lettering in second compartment, board edges tooled in gilt, red-sprinkled edges, original endpapers (corners bumped and scuffed, spine ends slightly chipped, few worm-holes to joints, wear to extremities, tight binding). Traces of pale dampstaining to outer margins of first leaves, light brown staining to gutter of a few gatherings at beginning and end, but generally crisp and clean throughout. Provenance: ownership inscription in French to first flyleaf. ----
RARE FIRST EDITION of Glisson's philosophical treatise concerning the nature of living matter. Francis Glisson (1599-1677) was a British anatomist and philosopher who held major positions in the academic and scientific life of 17th-century England (president of the London College of Physicians, Professor at University of Cambridge, and fellow of the Royal Society). Glisson was one of the leading lights of post-Harveian physiology and wrote important works on the anatomy of the liver and the abdominal organs. He also published this philosophical treatise concerning the nature of living matter, De natura substantiae energetica. "The work attempts to prove there is life in all bodies. In so-called inanimate bodies it is specified by their forms, whereas in plants and animals life is modified to become the vegetative soul and the sensitive soul, respectively. In animals the implanted life (vita insita) is duplicated and triplicated by the influx of the blood (vita influens) and by the psychic regulations. This philosophical work, even more than Glisson's medical books, has a strictly scholastic form of argumentation; large parts are a running debate with Francisco Suarez, whom Glisson held in the highest esteem. Among other modern authors, Glisson pays particular attention to Bacon, Scaliger, Harvey, and Descartes. He often refers to the vis plastica, which he identifies with van Helmont's archeus. Although the terminology is reminiscent of the Cambridge Platonists, it should not be overlooked that Glisson's metaphysics was fundamentally hylozoistic and thus hardly acceptable to Ralph Cudworth, who thought of 'plastic nature' as incorporeal. Glisson's doctrine of irritability acquired fame because in later years Haller traced the origin of the term back to Glisson. But in limiting irritability to muscle contractility, Haller defined it experimentally, depriving the concept of its broad biological significance" (DSB).
References: O.Temkin, Glisson, Francis, in: DSB V, pp. 426-27; NLM/Krivatsy 4827; Wellcome III, p.126; Wing G858; DSB V, p.426; K.Hartbecke, Francis Glissons Substanztheorie in ihrem ideengeschichtlichen Kontext. In: Metaphysik und Naturphilosophie im 17. Jahrhundert, 2006, 298 pp. - Visit our website to see more images!
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