Ten parts bound in five vols, 8vo; with one folding plate in vol. I; some scattered light foxing, but a very good, fresh copy in contemporary quarter polished calf, spines filleted in gilt with morocco lettering-pieces, marbled board, preserving green silk bookmarks; minor wear to spines extremities; an attractive copy.
US $2012 €1711
The most complete d’Alembert collected works, to this day the standard reference edition, Belin’s comprehensive publication significantly added to the previous collected edition of 1805 with numerous pieces that had never appeared in print before, including the correspondence with Voltaire and with Frederick the Great. The selection in volume I sets out a multi-faceted portrait of the author and offers the foundations and tenets of his rationalistic and empiricist epistemology as well as his mathematics, through the inclusion of the Éloge by Condorcet, Mémoire de D’Alembert par Lui-Même, Portrait de L’Auteur fait par Lui-Même, Discours Préliminaire de L’Encyclopédie (arguably the best and most enduring introduction to the philosophy of the Enlightenment), Explication détaillée du Système des Connaissances Humaines, et de Bacon, Élémens de Philosophie, Sur le Système du Monde, Sur le Calcul des Probabilités, De la Liberté de la Musique. Further volumes offer works of great influence in history, politics and literature, as well as d’Alembert’s correspondence with two of the most influential personalities of his age.
Cabeen IV, pp. 136–138; Quérard I, p. 27.
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SUPERBISSIMUM AURIS JUDICIUM RAMEAU, Jean-Philippe.
Nouvelles réflexions de M. Rameau sur sa demonstration du principe de l’harmonie, servant de base à tout l’art musical théorique et pratique.
First edition; rare. ‘This short treatise, which appeared in 1752, is ostensibly a postscript to Rameau’s Démonstration [du principe de l’harmonie], published two years earlier. It nevertheless marks a radical shift in Rameau’s thinking about the corps sonore [Rameau’s term for any vibrating system which emitted harmonic partials above its fundamental frequency]. In that same year, the architect Charles Briseux (c. 1680–1754) published a Traité du beau essential dans les arts in which he used the evidence of Rameau’s discoveries to demonstrate that architecture was based on the principles of harmony. Rameau seized on this corroboration of his theories, which confirmed his growing belief that the principles derived from the corps sonore were “common to all those arts of taste that have our senses for object and proportions for rules”. By now, too, he had discovered the “sensationalist” psychology of John Locke . . . which held that all knowledge is acquired primarily through the senses. Rameau could thus validate the corps sonore by empirical means, in showing that it was “drawn from nature and perceptible to three of our senses” (hearing, sight, touch). This elevation of experience over reason prompted Rameau to adopt as his watchword the aphorism superbissimum auris judicium (“the judgement of the ear is best”), which appears for the first time in these Nouvelles réflexions. He set great store by this publication, sending copies to the Swiss mathematicians Jean II Bernoulli and Leonhard Euler and the Italian philosopher Francesco Maria Zanotti . . . with a request for their opinions of it’ (Graham Sadler, The Rameau compendium, 2014, pp. 141–2).