De homine figuris et latinitate donatus a Florentio Schuyl
by Descartes, Rene
Leiden: Officina Hackiana, 1664. Descartes, Rene (1596-1650). De homine figuris et latinitate donatus a Florentio Schuyl. 4to. , 121 [i.e., 123], pp. 10 engraved plates; overlay flaps present. Leiden: ex officina Hackiana, 1664. 205 x 160 mm. Vellum ca. 1664, title in ink on spine, a few tiny holes along hinges. Lower margin of title restored not affecting text, minor foxing and toning, but very good. 20th century bookplate of Dr. Robert Sonnenschein. Second Latin edition of the first European textbook of physiology, and “the first attempt to present systematically a coherent description of bodily responses in terms of actual—or hypothetical—neuro-muscular structures” (Fearing, Reflex Action , pp. 18-28). In the first two parts, “On the bodily machine,” and “How the machine moves itself,” Descartes puts forth his theory of bodily automatism—the origin of the “machine man” or “robot” concept. Although he originally conceived De homine as a physiological appendix to the Discours sur la methode (1637), Descartes suppressed the work, together with his Le monde . . . (1664), after the trial of Galileo before the Holy Office (1633). What was heretical about Descartes’ views was his assertion that the body of man, like that of lower animals, could be understood as a machine, and that what distinguished man from lower animals was the presence of an immortal soul, the location of which Descartes argued was in the pineal body. More than any other physiological treatise, Descartes’ De homine first expressed concepts of neuro-muscular function which are acceptable in their major outlines to present day physiologists. Descartes is usually credited with making in De homine “the first descriptive statement of involuntary action which bears a recognizable resemblance to the modern concept of reflex action” (Fearing). Other historians, such as Brazier, in The Historical Development of Neurophysiology, definitely credit Descartes with the invention of the reflex concept, although his first use of the actual term “reflex” appears in the Traité des passions de l’âme (1649). Norman, Grolier Medical Hundred, 31 (first ed.). Garrison-Morton 574 (first ed.). Guibert, Descartes, pp. 199-200. (Inventory #: 43848)
You can be confident that when you make a purchase through ABAA.org, the item is sold by an ABAA member in full compliance with our Code of Ethics. Our sellers guarantee your order will be shipped promptly and that all items are as described. Buy with confidence through ABAA.org.