DESCARTES’ SYSTEM OF PHYSICS
His PASSIONES ANIMÆ
884G Rene Descartes 1596-1650
Renati Des-cartes Principia philosophiæ Ultima editio cum optima collata, dilligenter recognita, & mendis expurgata
Passiones animae per Renatum Des Cartes. Gallicè ab ipso conscriptae, nunc autem in exterorum gratiam Latina civitate donatae ab H.D.M.
Both) Amstelodami : Apud Danielem Elzevirium, 1672 $1,800
Quarto 71/4 X 5 3/4 inches *-*****4, A-Z4, Aa-Nn4, Oo2, [ad 2] *4-***4 A-M4.
The translation of Les passions de l’âme by Samuel and Henri Desmarets. This copy is bound in 19th century 1/4 sheep over marbled boards, spine with title and bands in gilt. Some rubbing to spine and wear to corners, contents quite clean throughout which some very light foxing appearing on occasion.
This volume contains two books by Descartes. First is the Principia Philosophia, Descartes’ main work of physics, the seminal “Principles of Philosophy”, one of the most important works of philosophy and physics since Aristotle. It is in this groundbreaking work that the “Cogito ergo sum” (“I think, therefore I am”) appears for the first time in the form in which we know it today and here that Descartes elaborates properly on it and puts it into the context that has been formative for philosophy – and modern thought in general – since then. Futhermore, it is in this work that we find the first formulation of what is now known as “Newton’s First Law of Motion”, which Newton borrowed from Descartes and later included in his own “principia”. As the title of Newton’s magnum opus, Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy), suggests, he intended his work to be in dialogue with Descartes’s Principia Philosophiae which is a complex text that includes discussions of everything from the laws of nature to the nature of God’s causal influence on the world. Just as Descartes had sought to replace Aristotelian or “Scholastic” methods and doctrines in natural philosophy, Newton sought his work to replace Descartes’s. It is therefore more historically accurate and more illuminating to interpret Newton within the historical stream of natural philosophy. “With the Principles we have what can be considered a canonical presentation of Descartes’ views in physics” (Cambridge Companion to Descartes, p. 292) “Descartes is properly called the father of modern philosophy, for it was through him that the sway of scholasticism was finally broken and a new method and content given to philosophy. He stands at the head of the modern rationalistic development, both in philosophy and theology; and in his insistence on the importance of experiment he rivals Bacon as one of the founders of English empiricism. The rationalistic school that he established was practically dominant till the time of Kant; and, indeed, most speculation since Descartes has been an attempt to overcome the intellectual difficulties of his extreme dualism. If mind and matter are absolutely opposed to each other, how can they react on each other? This was the problem of Descartes’ successors. […]” (Quoted from the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, vol. iii, pages 408-410.) “In Part I, Descartes sets out the basic principles of his investigation pursuing the methods developed in his Discourse on Method… “Part II is devoted to the nature of the physical world and the means by which we may comprehend it. Fundamental to Descartes’ physical theories was his conviction that all space was occupied, space was identified with matter, all matter was infinitely extensible and infinitely divisible; within the context of this theory a vacuum was impossible as was the existence of atoms… “Also presented in Part II are Descartes’ three laws of motion: the first is the conventional statement that a body at rest remains at rest until set in motion by some outside agency, and, concomitantly, that a body in motion remains so until met with resistance. His second law states that moving bodies tend to continue in a straight line; consequently, for a body to move in a circle or an arc it must be subjected to forces other than those which initially set it in motion. His third law and the seven secondary rules which he derived from it are more controversial… “Part III not only presents Descartes’ conception of the structure of the world, but represents the first serious attempt at a mechanical explanation of the solar system. The Vortex Theory boldly attempted to reduce the phenomena of the universe to a single mechanical principle. ‘Even after Newton had shown that the Cartesian system was impossible as a dynamical system, the theory lingered on, and for more than a generation efforts were continually being made to patch up the fabric before it finally collapsed.’ -Scott The Scientific Work of René Descartes: 1596-1650 p167-168.Next bound in is The Passions of the Soul,Descartes´ last work, written for Queen Christina of Sweden, and first published in French in 1649. It discusses psychology, ethics and the relationship between mind and body. Descartes believed that the soul was a definite entity giving rise to senses, thoughts, feelings, affections and acts of volition and he was one of the first to regard the brain as an organ which integrated the function of mind and body. Such beliefs had a powerful influence on the thinking of men like Robert Hooke, Giovanni Borelli, Jan Swammerdam and Thomas Willis, and at a time when scientific research was expanding rapidly Descartes´s theories helped to explain the more puzzling problems of human physiology.
Descartes was careful in the Principia to qualify his mechanistic Copernican views with the idea that all motion is relative. 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.
Also bound here is Passiones animæ,
Descartes´ last work, written for Queen Christina of Sweden, and first published in French in 1649. It discusses psychology, ethics and the relationship between mind and body. One of his main ideas is the separation of body and soul; the soul thinks and the body is only physical. In the book, he discusses six primary passions (wonder, love, hate, desire, joy, and sadness) and their physiological effects on human behavior. The book examines human passions as part of natural science, how passionas and thinking would affect he human body. He also wrote the book to address how passions would affect his theory developed in “Discourse on the Method”. This book is often attributed as developing an awareness of the cognitive mind. Descartes believed that the soul was a definite entity giving rise to senses, thoughts, feelings, affections and acts of volition and he was one of the first to regard the brain as an organ which integrated the function of mind and body. Such beliefs had a powerful influence on the thinking of men like Robert Hooke, Giovanni Borelli, Jan Swammerdam and Thomas Willis, and at a time when scientific research was expanding rapidly Descartes´s theories helped to explain the more puzzling problems of human physiology.
Principia: Guibert #4 &2; Willems 1106.
Passions: Guibert # Willems, Les Elzevier, no. 1469
Please see: http://www3.nd.edu/~kbrading/Classes/Phil%2043713/Garber-Descartes’%20physics.pdf