"HIS INTELLECTUAL ENERGY WAS UNABATED": HOBBES ON VACUUM, GRAVITATION, MOVEMENT, SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE AND PHILOSOPHY, 1678 FIRST EDITION OF HIS FINAL BOOK
HOBBES, Thomas. Decameron Physiologicum: or, Ten Dialogues of Natural Philosophy… To Which is Added the Proportion of a Straight Line to Half the Arc of a Quadrant. London: by J.C. for W. Crook, 1678. Octavo, contemporary full speckled calf, gilt-decorated spine, raised bands, red morocco spine label; pp. , 136, [7, publisher's advertisements]. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $12,500.
Rare first edition of Hobbes' final work, a "new set of dialogues on physical questions, in the fashion of the earlier ones, but now with a stroke added at Wallis' doctrine of gravitation," with large folding engraved plate of diagrams and three engraved diagrams in the text. An excellent copy in unrestored contemporary calf.
"Though his strength was failing, his intellectual energy was unabated: he published translations of Homer (books 9–12 of the Odyssey in 1673, the rest of that work in 1675, and the whole of the Iliad in 1676), as well as another treatise on physics in dialogue form, Decameron Physiologicum, in 1678" (ODNB). Published when Hobbes was over ninety, the Decameron Physiologicum constitutes "a new set of dialogues on physical questions, in the fashion of the earlier ones, but now with a stroke added at Wallis' doctrine of gravitation in the De Motu. And a demonstration of the equality of a straight line to the arc of a circle was, of course, thrown in at the end, to show him true as ever to the desperate purpose that had maintained the long quarter century of strife" (G.C. Robertson, quoted in MacDonald & Hargreaves). The "strife" was a raging battle in print between Wallis, the more skilled mathematician, and Hobbes, the preeminent philosopher, that began in 1655 when Hobbes published De Corpore. "His last piece of all, Decameron Physiologicum, was a new set of dialogues on physical questions, most of which he had treated in a similar fashion before; but now, in dealing with gravitation, he was able to fire a parting shot at Wallis; and one more demonstration of the equality of a straight line to the arc of a circle, thrown in at the end, appropriately closed the strangest warfare in which perverse thinker ever engaged" (Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed., 550). The first two chapters outline Hobbes' views on the relations between philosophy, science and religion, giving some axioms of scientific method. The third is mostly devoted to the vacuum. Bound with preliminary license leaf and with eight pages of publisher's advertisements at rear. Wing H2226. MacDonald & Hargreaves 84.
Interior clean, light wear to corners, joints rubbed but sound. Copies of this book are rare on the market, especially so in such nice condition in contemporary binding.