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    [Featured Lot]. Digby, Kenelm. Two Treatises: In the one of Which, The Nature of Bodies, In the Other, The Nature of Mans Soule, Is Looked Into: In Way Of Discovery Of The Immortality of Reasonable Soules. London: For John Williams, 1645. 8vo. A8,B4,*-3*4,A-T8,V4;2A-H8,2I6,3A-3G8,3H-3L4. [48], 312, 301-429, [11], 136, 139-143, [3] p. Full calf, covers ruled in blind, re-backed, corners worn. Lacks portrait, first and last leaves on tabs, some light browning and staining. Some copies report a portrait but the ESTC does not call for one. First Edition published in England. From the Krown & Spellman Collection. Krown & Spellman retail: $1000.00


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    Digby (1603-1665) is said to have gotten his interest in occult sciences from his tutor Thomas Allen when he studied at Worcester College, Oxford. "Digby's combined work, the Two Treatises, in the one of Which the Nature of Bodies, in the Other the Nature of Man's Soul is Looked Into: in Way of Discovery of the Immortality of Reasonable Souls, is on a massive scale. The essential design was to trace the course of nature and to demonstrate immortality from the basic facts of physical existence. On Bodies was much the larger and more significant treatise, much of its thought derived, as Digby confessed, from White. In thirty-eight chapters he took all natural phenomena for his subject and onto an Aristotelian framework built concepts selected from current thinkers. Digby adopted the two dominant ideas of the time - the atomist theory, that everything in nature consists of atoms, and mechanical explanations, that every physical effect has a physical cause. Digby's own experiments provided part of the evidence leading to his conclusions. In three chapters on the embryology of animals, for example, his experiments upheld Aristotle's theory of epigenesis against the prevailing theory of pre-formation and led him to the modern conception of embryonic development. Medical historians are agreed that Digby deserves a very high place among seventeenth-century biologists: indeed he has been called the father of modern embryology. The much briefer second treatise, On the Soul, contains no explicit reference to Christian revelation or even the existence of God. Digby sought to prove immortality from ordinary experience: only the life of the body could be proved to end at death. But despite complex argument, how and where the soul subsists after death seems unsatisfactorily explained. On Bodies for a time made Digby's reputation as a natural philosopher. It was the first comprehensive synthesis of the new philosophy with the Aristotelian thought then current in the universities and one of the first fully developed atomist systems of the seventeenth century. "



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    Auction Dates
    November, 2014
    20th Thursday
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