(Gouda: P. Rammazenius, 1638). 318 x 196 mm. (12 5/8 x 7 3/4"). 4 p.l., 96 leaves, 97- pp., 113-152 leaves; 30,  leaves. FIRST EDITION of the "Philosophia Moysaica," bound with the First Latin Edition of the "Responsum."
Modern binding using part of a 16th century antiphonary leaf, flat spine. With two large copper-plate engravings, four copper-plates in text, and 26 woodcut figures in the text. Biblotheca Osleriana 2629; Gardner 237; Wheeler Gift 112; Ferguson I, 284; Wellcome I, 2331-32; Caillet 4036. See also: DSB, pp. 47-49. Leaves faintly browned, occasional minor marginal stains or smudges, a few tiny rust spots, but AN EXCELLENT COPY of a book difficult to find this good--the leaves generally clean and very fresh, and in an unworn binding.
Illustrated with abstruse and mysterious diagrams, this volume contains two separate books by an author who, while nominally part of the scientific community, had his feet firmly planted in the realm of the metaphysical. The bulk of the present item consists of the English physician Fludd's posthumously published final work, in which he expounds his "Mosaic Philosophy" of the world based on the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible, traditionally believed to have been dictated to Moses by God). Though the work consists mostly of Fludd's mystical interpretations of the divine "truths" which these books supposedly reveal, it also contains points of true scientific interest, including an early diagram of a thermometer (which he claims to have seen in a 500-year-old manuscript). The instrument shown is quite similar to a thermoscope (a very basic set-up in which water rises and falls within a vertical tube), but it is distinguished by the addition of a scale of measurement--an important development toward our modern thermometer. Fludd (1574-1637) was often criticized for his lack of empirical evidence in support of his theories, but this diagram supports DSB's assertion that he "was quite willing to use observational and experimental evidence," even though "he thought that the eternal truths of Scripture and the mysteries of the ancient occultists carried far more weight than the evidence of the senses."
As perhaps the most important scientific content in the volume, Fludd, like William Gilbert before him, explores the concept of magnetism--though in his own occultist way. For him, the observable phenomenon of attraction and repulsion between two objects works on an invisible, cosmic level, arousing "sympathetic" energies that could unite objects even at a distance. He applies this concept in the second work (often found bound with "Philosophia," as here), where he supports the efficacy of so-called "weapon-salve." This salve is a recipe of blood, moss, and flesh from a human corpse said to cure a wound when applied to the weapon that had caused the harm. First put forth by the 16th century physician Paracelsus, weapon-salve is based on the belief that the like qualities of wound and weapon would "sympathize" with each other, and work together to overcome the injury. Fludd here uses Gilbert's work on magnetism to bolster his hypothesis, saying that the "weapon-salve" process was rooted in the same magnetic forces that could be observed in nature.
According to Britannica, "Most of Fludd’s writings represent the culmination of the occult, as distinct from the scientific, tendencies of the 17th century. Deriving his ideas from such diverse sources as the Old Testament, the Jewish Kabbala, alchemy, astrology, sympathetic magic, and chiromancy, Fludd was primarily interested in establishing parallelisms between man and the world, both of which he viewed as images of God." The present work is important not only because it is the author's final piece of writing, but also, as Gardner says, because it "fitly represents his matured opinions," and is perhaps the best expression of Fludd's unique and elaborate worldview in his entire oeuvre. (ST16486)
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