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DESCARTES, Réné (1596-1650)

De homine figuris et latinitate donatus a Florentio Schuyl, inclytæ Urbis Sylvæ-Ducis Senatire, & ibidem Philosophiæ Professore.
Lugduni Batavorum, apud Petrum Leffen & Franciscum Moyardum, 1662.

First edition of the first textbook on physiology. – ”Descartes wrote De homine as a physiological appendix to the Discours de la méthode (1637), but suppressed it after the condemnation of Galileo, fearing that his mechanistic view of the human body might be considered heretical. It was first published in this Latin version by Schuyl, with the original French version appearing two years later.” (Norman) "Descartes considered the human body a material machine, directed by a rational soul located in the pineal body. This book was the first attempt to cover the whole field of ‘animal physiology." (Garrison-Morton). Descartes understood the significance of Harvey’s discovery, especially the circulatory motion of the blood, and includes a long description of the circulation of the blood in this work. – "Without Descartes, the seventeenth century mechanization of physiological conceptions would have been inconceivable.” (DSB). There are two states of the title-page: one with the imprint "Apud Petrum Leffen & Franciscum Moyardum” and a woodcut printer’s device of a phoenix rising from the flames, with the motto Ex morte immortalia; the other with the names of the publishers reversed and a device showing an angel under a laurel tree, with the motto Insigne maxime laurus.

Collation: Pp (36), 53, 56-57, 56-112, 111-121, (1). With 10 engraved plates and 33 engravings (some full-page) and 23 woodcuts in the text (several repeated). The plate at p 9, showing the interior parts of the heart, has lift-up flaps printed on both sides. 80 leaves, sign.: a-d4 e2 A-P4 Q2.

Binding: Contemporary vellum.

Provenance: Early unidentified signature on title, also signed "Carlander" inside front cover and with his mark :/:.

References: Garrison-Morton 574; Grolier, One Hundred Books Famous in Medicine 31; Guibert, pp 196-97; Osler 931; Tchemerzine II, p 798 (describing the two variants of the title-page); Norman 627. Waller 2376.

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