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70 2962 Descartes R
70/2962 Descartes, R. Tractatus de homine, et de formatione foetus. Ed. L. de la Forge. Amst., Ex Typographia Blaviana, 1686, (78),239p., woodcut ills., contemp. gilt calf, sm. 4to.

- Edges trimmed (occas. affecting woodcuts). Spine-ends sl. worn. Otherwise fine.

= Krivatsy 3124; cf. Norman Libr. 627 and Garrison/ Morton 574 (ed. of 1662). This is "the first European textbook of physiology. The work was based upon Descartes's concept of "l'homme machine", an automaton constructed by God to approximate real men as closely as possible; by means of this literary device Descartes was able to avoid the restrictions and encumbrances of traditional physiology and theology, and to explain all physical motions, except for deliberately wilful, rational or self-conscious behavior, in purely mechanical terms. The work is particularly noteworthy for containing "the first descriptive statement of involuntary action which bears a recognizable resemblance to the modern concept of reflex action" (Fearing, p.26); Descartes had first used the word "reflex" in a neurophysiological sense in Les Passions de l'âme." (Norman Library). SEE ILLUSTRATION PLATE CXXXVI.

€ (400-600) 550