“A PIONEER WORK… WELL AHEAD OF ITS TIME”: JEVONS’ PRINCIPLES OF SCIENCE, 1874 FIRST EDITION INCLUDING “AN ANTICIPATION OF MODERN COMPUTING MACHINES”
JEVONS, William Stanley. The Principles of Science: A Treatise on Logic and Scientific Method. London: Macmillan, 1874. Two volumes. Octavo, original full brick cloth. Housed in custom clamshell box. $2100.
First edition of Jevons’ seminal treatise on logic and the scientific method, with engraved illustration and detailed description of his “logical piano”—“the first logic machine with enough power to solve complicated problems with superhuman speed” (Hook & Norman).
“The wide range not only of Jevons’ interests but of his important contributions to knowledge is as remarkable as his path-breaking, fundamental originality of thought. He wrote almost as much on logic and scientific method as on political economy, in both fields publishing valuable, widely read textbooks as well as major original works. The Principles of Science (1874) has been recognized as a pioneer work, in important respects well ahead of its time. Especially notable was his development of the fundamentals of formal logic on the lines of George Boole, and his construction of a machine, still extant… for the mechanical solution of deductive problems—an anticipation of modern computing machines [depicted on the frontispiece]… Jevons also developed the hypothetico-deductive approach, expounded more recently by Karl Popper, in that he rejected the Baconian conception of scientific enquiry as starting from the accumulation of facts, and stressed the role of conjectures and hypotheses. ‘Inductive investigation’ he wrote, ‘consists in the union of hypothesis and experiment” (IESS). Church 24. See Hook & Norman 330 for Jevons’ 1870 paper describing the construction of his logic machine. Early owner signatures.
Cloth of rear joint of Volume I with one inch split; inner hinges expertly reinforced. Occasional light foxing. A near-fine copy in original cloth.