Early Natural Science - Copernicus Astronomy (1750 - 1790)

1750 - Scholarly Latin Manuscript - Metaphysics

"Phisica" - Aristotelian Physics

Date: 1750 - 1790

France, circa 1750-1790. "Phisica Doar" [Dissertation on Physics]. Unpublished scholarly manuscript written in the mid to late eighteenth century on Aristotelian physics and on significant subsequent theories from Early modern Europe, being a compendium of ancient knowledge and theses from the scientific revolution, presenting numerous topics debated in the writer's day, including, in part, astronomy, the physical or natural being, mind-body dualism, metaphysics, gravity, light, earth, meteors, weights and measurement. 8vo. 456 pages in manuscript. All text is in Latin. Illustrated with approximately one dozen in-text manuscript diagrams; occasional spaces were designated for diagrams but not drawn. Bound in a fine recent leather binding representative of the period, with four raised bands, gilt tooling, and red title label to spine. Volume measures approximately 12 x 17 x 3 cm. A fine and scarce example of eighteenth century academica. Aristotelian physics, which is the earliest known speculative theory of physics, prevailed for almost two millennia. Following the work of pioneer scientists such as Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Galileo, Descartes and Newton (at least three of whom named in the present volume), it became generally accepted that Aristotelian physics was neither correct nor viable. Nonetheless, Aristotle's hypotheses survived as a scholastic pursuit well into the seventeenth century. The scholar who wrote the present work is unidentified, though he puts forth a purposeful exposition and outstanding deliberation of Antiquity's greatest philosopher's work, further examining the revolutionary progress of sixteenth to seventeenth philosophers and scientists, and thoroughly speculating the validity of numerous concepts, with thesis after thesis, including his own learned views. Outlining his aim, his introduction begins as follows: "Ventum e ad Eam pphiae partem que naatis ant phisica dici solet... arcane Contemplani nostra obiicit, postum loa intellectum instruxit regulis... Scientiarum inquisitior mens... methaphisica, magis abstratus spectant, doctrinae ordo... methodus postulat ut ad particularia descendam corporum naam, ppia, proprietates que contemplemur." [Roughly translated into English: From... customary philosophies of scientists... contemplating our arcane objects, to understand the foundation of our instruction and rules... investigative scientific minds... metaphysics, in-depth abstract observations, stages of knowledge, methods of postulation and in particular the descent of objects, philosophies, proprietary contemplations.] To a large extent he seems to follow the format of an important work titled "Physica speculatio" written by respected Spanish philosopher Alonso Gutiérrez (also known as Alonso de la Vera Cruz) and published in 1557 in the capital [Mexico City] of New Spain. "Physica speculatio" was the first published work in America to specifically address the study of physics, and was written to teach the students of the Real University of Mexico. Alonso's "Physica speculatio" was also in essence an investigation and exhibition of physical science, largely drawing from the philosophical perspective of Aristotle and also Middle Ages tradition. It contained books, or sections, titled which corresponded directly to the Aristotelian works. Each book was divided in Speculations (a particular study) which formed individual chapters. Alonso presented his work according to the traditional scholastic method, proposing first the opinion or negative affirmation, contrary to the thesis that it would sustain, and afterwards the positive, with foundations and explanations. Similarly, the writer of the present manuscript is divided into "Disputao" [disputations, discussions]. He introduces a scientific concept, with at least one thesis, often several in fact, followed by questions and contemplations, and finally his conclusion. The first part of Alonso's book discussed subjects treated by Aristotle in his eight books of physics, as they are the essence of the physical or natural being, including movement, infinity, the extension, space, time, primary impulse, and so forth. * The present manuscript discusses movement from pages 103 to 264; other terms identified are contraction, refraction, condensation, shattering, circular and spiral movement, elasticity, descent, acceleration, water displacement, effects of heating and cooling, light, colour, sound, magnetic electricity, and more. The second part treated the subjects of generation and corruption of living beings, of the mixed and composed being, of the primary qualities and of the elements and their properties. * Chimicorum (chemical composition) begins on page 15 of the present manuscript, De Unione Compositi (compound union) on page 58, De Mutationibus Corporis naatis (changes in the Body) page 65, mutation and propagation on pages 70-71, for examples of further synonymous format. The third part exposed early beliefs about meteors, the stars and their influence on humans, theories on atmosphere, comets, tides, and other atmospheric phenomena. * Page 265 of the present manuscript appears to be the start of such celestial subject matter; page 280 discussing air; page 294 beginning a study on 'Meteoris', and continuing systematically with subjects of astronomy, page 327 containing the writer's first of four planetary orbit diagrams headed 'Sistema Copernicum' followed by the 'Sistema Tyconium' and 'Sistema Ricciolo.' In the fourth part Alonso commented on "De Anima" [On the Soul] which is a major treatise on the nature of living things, written by Aristotle c.350 B.C.E.. Today alternatively referred to as the "lifesource", this was a philosophy on the intrinsic capacity of plants and animals for nourishment and reproduction, and the rational soul of humans who are further endowed with intellect. Alonso's Physica speculatio concluded with some reflections on the treatise "De Caelo" [The Sky] by Aristotle. * Pages 361-427 in the present manuscript examine Aristotle's theory of the souls. A brief section also addresses this matter, beginning on page 335. In addition, we find a disputation on the philosophy of René Decartes' mind-body dualism. An influential French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist in his own right, many elements of Descartes (1596-1650) have precedents in late Aristotelianism. Pages 151 to 171 observe the acceleration of gravity [Newton's Second Law - introduced in his Principia in 1687]. Three pages discuss venom or poison, and medical antidote - "De vi venenatica, antidotica et medicatrice". Pages 428-444 of the present manuscript comprise theories centered on ethereal concepts, such as existence, spirituality, angels, the perfect God, in other words metaphysics, the branch of philosophy that deals with the first principles of things, including abstract concepts such as being, knowing, substance, cause, identity, time, and space. The final pages contemplate morals, virtues, and the beatitudes. A superlative, erudite treatise, presenting and debating the indispensable knowledge and philosophies from which modern science derives its foundation and principles. Aristotle (384-322 BC) was an ancient Greek philosopher and scientist. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, biology, zoology, metaphysics, logic, ethics, aesthetics, poetry, theater, music, rhetoric, linguistics, politics and government, and constitute the first comprehensive system of Western philosophy. On physical science, Aristotle's views virtually shaped medieval scholarship. Their influence extended from Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages into the Renaissance, and were not replaced systematically until the Enlightenment and theories such as classical mechanics. In metaphysics, Aristotelianism profoundly influenced Judeo-Islamic philosophical and theological thought during the Middle Ages and continues to influence Christian theology, especially the Neoplatonism of the Early Church and the scholastic tradition of the Roman Catholic Church. Aristotle was well known among medieval Muslim intellectuals and revered as "The First Teacher". His ethics, though always influential, gained renewed interest with the modern advent of virtue ethics. All aspects of Aristotle's philosophy continue to be the object of active academic study today. Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) was a Renaissance and Reformation era mathematician and astronomer who formulated a model of the universe that placed the Sun rather than the Earth at the center of the universe, likely independently of Aristarchus of Samos, who had formulated such a model some eighteen centuries earlier. The publication of Copernicus' model in his book De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres), just before his death in 1543, was a major event in the history of science, triggering the Copernican Revolution and making an important contribution to the Scientific Revolution. Tycho Brahe, born Tyge Ottesen Brahe (1546-1601), was a Danish nobleman known for his accurate and comprehensive astronomical and planetary observations. He was born in the then Danish peninsula of Scania. Well known in his lifetime as an astronomer, astrologer and alchemist, he has been described as "the first competent mind in modern astronomy to feel ardently the passion for exact empirical facts." His observations were some five times more accurate than the best available observations at the time. Giovanni Battista Riccioli (1598-1671) was an Italian astronomer and a Catholic priest in the Jesuit order. He is known, among other things, for his experiments with pendulums and with falling bodies, for his discussion of 126 arguments concerning the motion of the Earth, and for introducing the current scheme of lunar nomenclature.

Mild age-toning, otherwise in very good condition, beautifully preserved, clean and bright.


Offered by Voyager Press Rare Books & Manuscripts