Iacobi Blanchoni ucessiensis adversus Ludovicum beneventanum abbatem selestensem defensionum liber.

Lyon, Jean de Tournes, 1550.

4to, pp. 40; printer’s device on title, one large and several 5-line finely engraved initials, some criblé, some historiated, some grotesque; a very good copy in modern marbled boards, the manuscript ownership inscription of Cardinal Altemps (1561-1595) on the title-page.

£1500

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First edition of a very rare work of sixteenth-century Lyonnese Neoplatonism, an elegantly-printed de Tournes edition. Ostensibly a simple series of remarks against the theses of the (presumably sternly Scholastic) abbot of Selestan, this is a tract of Renaissance moral philosophy. The theme of dignitas hominis concentrated the philosophical efforts of several Lyonnese men of letters inspired by Ficino and Pico della Mirandola. Like Charles de Bovelles and P. Boaistuau, Jacques Blanchon systematically harmonizes Aristotle’s philosophy and science with the hermetic thought associated with the writings of Hermes Trismegistus.

Anticipating Charron and Montaigne, Blanchon does not accept demonology and witchcraft, exposing the foolishness of popular beliefs largely on grounds of common sense rather than strict Scholastic rationalism. Further chapters address ideas and knowledge, nature, the soul, the impact of need on morality, human freedom from predestinations and from the stars, and some false etymologies. Blanchon was also the author of a tract ‘De summo hominis bono’ published in the same year.

Adams B2099. Rare: two locations in the UK (Cambridge and St. Andrews), one in the US (Newberry), one in France (BNF) and two in Switzerland (Basel and Bern).

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