Two vols, 8vo, pp. viii, 416, ; [iv], 464, vi, ; vol. 2 has two quires on light blue paper; occasional light foxing, a little light damp staining to the upper margins in vol. 2, small loss to blank margin at foot of final errata leaf in vol. 1; a good copy in near contemporary calf, gilt decoration and contrasting lettering-pieces to spines, marbled endpapers, joints a little worn but holding firm, abrasions and small losses to covers.
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Méchanique morale, ou essai sur l’art de perfectionner et d’employer ses organes, propres, acquis et conquis.
First edition of La Salle’s wide-ranging work in which he examines, inter alia, understanding, learning, reasoning, syllogism, the Baconian method, asking and answering questions, physiognomy, qualities of character, and eloquence. Having travelled widely in his youth – to Newfoundland, Africa, China, and India – La Salle (1754-1829) settled in Paris to devote himself to metaphysics, publishing Le désordre régulier (1786) and La balance naturelle (1788) before this work. After a period of exile in Italy writing against the French Revolution, he returned to France where he translated the works of Bacon.
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First edition of this eccentric travel-inspired treatise drawing upon the author’s experience in India and his travels in Europe. The prefatory ‘advertisement’ establishes the fiction that ‘the following fragments were written by a native of Assyria [Akbur], who … was removed to the continent of Europe, and thence to England … he then travelled; and in various countries threw together the reflections which appear in the following sheets’. Compartmentalised into ‘fragments’ rather than chapters, the work is generically indistinct, and offers a compilation of fiction, philosophy, history and travel to reflections on foreign lands, notably China, Japan, Tartary, Hindostan, Greece and the Middle East. Sulivan cites widely in order to illustrate his points, emphasising Akbur’s familiarity with Milton, Pope, Thomson, and Dryden, as well as law, the classical canon and contemporary scholarship.
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‘ONE WOULD HAVE TO TAKE A LOT OF COCAINE TO MAKE THIS SITUATION MOSZKOWSKI, Alexander [and H.J. STENNING (trans.).]
The Isles of Wisdom.
First English edition of Alexander Moszkowski’s dystopian satire. Moszkowski imagines a visit to a series of South-East Asian islands which each subscribe unreservedly to a philosophical school of thought. These utopias are absurd: people’s notions of philosophical purity prevent them from appreciating life’s variety, and even emotions, like love, which are non-philosophically useful. Contradictions ensue: on the Platonic island the young read Homer and Hesiod to learn classical languages whilst being ‘taught to despise the deeds of which the poets tell’ as unproductive. Utopias therefore eliminate the inefficiencies and experiences which make life enjoyable, thus, ‘nine-tenths of all philosophy whatsoever is sheer nonsense’.