Oeuvres philosophiques latines & françoises de feu. Tirées de ses manuscrits qui se conservent dans la bibliotheque royale a Hanovre et publiées par Mr. Rud. Eric Raspe. Avec une Préface de Mr. Kaestner.

Amsterdam et Leipzig, J. Schreuder, 1765.

Two works bound in one vol., 4to, pp. [iv], xvi, [2], 540, [18]; [ii], viii, 136; titles printed in red and black, finely engraved vignette on first title, several other woodcut head-pieces and initials throughout; the odd spot, very faint marginal foxing in a couple of quires, but a very good, clean copy, in contemporary half calf, sprinkled boards, flat spine filleted in gilt with gilt contrasting morocco lettering-pieces; upper joint cracked, extremities worn, spine a bit rubbed; neat contemporary note on the verso of errata; from Basle University library, with small stamp and de-accession in the lower margin of first title-page.


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First edition of Leibniz’ fundamental Nouveaux essais sur l’entendement humain, here published as part of the first collected edition of his philosophical works in French and Latin. The Nouveaux essais take up 496 of the 540 pages and offers one of the most important refutations of Locke’s Essay on Human Understanding: a defence of the existence of non-material substance (see N. Jolley, Leibniz and Locke), and a refutation of the conventional nature (‘il y a quelque chose de naturel dans l’origine des mots’, p. 241).

Leibniz refers to this work in a letter of 1714, and clarifies that, having written it in 1704-5, he had renounced going to press, unwilling to publish a radical refutation of a recently dead author. In his introduction Raspe surmises that reasons of prudence and unwillingness to be distracted from the dominant controversies on calculus and on metaphysics might have prevented Leibniz from entering another contest. The publication of the Nouveaux essais in this 1765 edition was momentous and influential, and informed Hume’s and Kant’s reading of Leibniz. This edition also includes a number of other works concerning language (‘Dialogus de connexione inter res & verba’, ‘Difficultates quaedam Logicae’ and ‘Historia & commendatio charactericae universalis quae simul fit ars inveniendi’), the ‘Examen du sentiment du P. Malebranche que nous voyons tout en Dieu’, and ‘Discours touchant la methode de la certitude & de l’art d’inventer’.

The Leibniz is bound with a beautiful copy of the first edition of the anonymously published Institutions Leibnitiennes, also issued in octavo in the same year. It is ‘an accurate but critical account of Leibniz’s cosmological theories’ (DSB), attributed to Pierre Sigorgne, the author of the Instutions Newtoniennes, or sometimes to Louis Dutens; the text refers to an edition of Leibniz’ works being prepared by the same editor, and Dutens oversaw the publication of the Geneva Opera omnia that came out in 1768. The Institutions lay out the content of Leibniz’ exchanges with professor Canz of Tübingen on the topic of the monad.

I: Attig 482n; Brunet III, 950; Graesse IV, 152; Müller 1652; Quérard V, 119; Ravier 472; Stojan 56 and 57; Yolton C1765-4. See Aarsleff’s chapter ‘Leibniz on Locke on Language’ in his From Locke to Saussure (1982). II: Barbier II, 929; Müller, Leibniz-Bibliographie, Verzeichnis der Literatur über Leibniz, 2155.

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