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DESCARTES’ DEFENCE. FIRST EDITION.

DESCARTES, René (1596–1650)

Epistola Renati des-Cartes ad celeberrimum D. Gisbertum Voetium . In qua examinantur duo libri, nuper pre Voetio Ultrajecti simul editi, unus de Confraternitate Marianâ, alter de Philosophiâ Cartesianâ

Amsterdam: apud Ludovicum Elzevrium, 1643
12mo: (...)6 A–M12 (blank M10, lacking blanks M11,12), 298 of 300 leaves, pp. [12] 282 [2] (last leaf blank, lacking two further terminal blanks). Woodcut device on title, Minerva with motto ‘Ne extra oleas’; woodcut initials and tailpieces.
Condition: 114 x 68mm. Light browning.
Binding: Contemporary calf, arms of Maastricht in blind on sides. Heavily restored, new endleaves.
First edition. An edition in Dutch appeared in the same year and the text was included in subsequent editions of the Meditationes.
Bibliography: Guibert p. 75 no.1; Willems 998; Tchemerzine IV, p. 293.
£4,000

Descartes’ vindication of Cartesianism against the charges of Gisbert Voet (1588–1676). Through a number of dissertations which he supervised at the University of Utrecht, Henricus Regius (1598–1679) had been promoting Descartes’ views on the human mind, seen as denying the immortality of the soul, and this and Descartes’ Copernicanism and scepticism were regarded by Voet as undermining the foundations of Calvinist theology as taught at Utrecht. Failing to get Regius removed from the chair of medicine at the university, Voet directed his attacks at Descartes himself. Cartesian thought was officially condemned by the University and Descartes feared being expelled from the Dutch Republic where he had lived since 1628. This undoubtedly contributed to his decision to accept Queen Christina’s invitation to Sweden in 1649.
This is one of Descartes’ rarest works.
Keywords:     philosophy of science