Discours de la methode pour bien conduire sa raison, & chercher la verité dans les sciences. Plus la Dioptrique, les Meteores, et la Geometrie. Qui sont des essais de cete Methode.
Leiden: Jan Maire, 1637. First edition.
A very fine and exceptionally large copy, entirely unrestored, in its original Dutch vellum binding - the birth of analytical or co-ordinate geometry, designated by John Stuart Mill as “the greatest single step ever made in the progress of the exact sciences”. PMM 129; Grolier/Horblit 24; Dibner 81; Evans 5; Sparrow 54.
“It is no exaggeration to say that Descartes was the first of modern philosophers and one of the first modern scientists; in both branches of learning his influence has been vast. ... The revolution he caused can be most easily found in his reassertion of the principle (lost in the middle ages) that knowledge, if it is to have any value, must be intelligence and not erudition. His application of modern algebraic arithmetic to ancient geometry created the analytical geometry which is the basis of the post-Euclidean development of that science. His statement of the elementary laws of matter and movement in the physical universe, the theory of vortices, and many other speculations threw light on every branch of science from optics to biology. Not least may be remarked his discussion of Harvey’s discovery of the circulation of blood, the first mention of it by a prominent foreign scholar. All this found its starting point in the ‘Discourse on the Method for Proper Reasoning and Investigating Truth in the Sciences’. Descartes’s purpose is to find the simple indestructible proposition which gives to the universe and thought their order and system. Three points are made: the truth of thought, when thought is true to itself (thus cogito, ergo, sum), the inevitable elevation of its partial state in our finite consciousness to its full state in the infinite existence of God, and the ultimate reduction of the material universe to extension and local movement.” (Printing and the Mind of Man).
4to (203 x 158 mm), pp 78;  413 ; , original Dutch vellum, gilt fillet on the covers, back cover with stains, flat spine decorated with gilt fillets, green fabric ties. A fine and very large copy.