A DISQUISITION ABOUT THE FINAL CAUSES OF NATURAL THINGS
Price: 4,250.00 USD
London: Printed by H. C. for John Taylor, 1688. 180 x 110 mm. (7 x 4 1/4"). [xvi], 96, 81-112, 129-274,  pp. (with numerous pagination errors, but complete). FIRST EDITION, issue with cancel title. Contemporary sprinkled calf, rolled panels with a floral tool in each corner, neatly rebacked, raised bands with morocco spine label and unobtrusive paper library label near the foot. Fulton 186A; Heirs of Hippocrates 367; Wellcome II, 224; Wing B-3946. A few small dings to the boards, extremities a little rubbed, one clean two-inch tear in the middle of one leaf (due to paper flaw) affecting a couple of letters, two smaller marginal tears (one affecting three lines of text), otherwise a really excellent copy, clean and fresh in a sturdy binding. One of the last works published in Boyle's lifetime, this rare and significant title by one of the most creative and prolific scientists of the 17th century provides a good example of both the author's breadth of intellectual inquiry and his deeply held interest in theology and philosophy. The youngest of the 14 children of the earl of Cork, Boyle (1627-91) was one of the founders of the Royal Society and a most active member throughout his life. He published many significant books and treatises, did much original work in chemistry, helped to develop a celebrated vacuum pump, and propounded "Boyle's Law," which formulated the important relationship between the pressure and volume of gases. Despite having suffered a major stroke in 1670, Boyle continued to experiment and write intensively until the end of his life. His later writings, particularly those produced in the 1680s and including the present work, are often characterized in two ways: they may include forays into the world of medicine, and they also reflect a profound piety and respect for the divine. The present book is of considerable interest as a medical work. At the same time, the main essay presents the author's thoughts on the relationship between theology and the work of natural philosophers, and is often regarded as Boyle's endorsement of teleological inference (today more commonly referred to as "intelligent design"). In Fulton's words, on the medical side, "the volume is replete with allusions indicating [Boyle's] powers of observation as a naturalist and there are many references to physiology; perhaps the most interesting is the record of a conversation with William Harvey on how he discovered the circulation of the blood . . . . Appended to the 'Disquisition' is a brief tract on disturbances of vision; Boyle describes cataract, and was aware of the location of the opacity. A variety of case histories are recorded, drawn from his own experience, and the tract appears to be one of the first in which this method of teaching was employed in an ophthalmological treatise." In all, there are 14 ophthalmological case histories given, including exophthalmic ophthalmoplegia and other degenerative and trauma-related conditions. FIRST EDITION, issue with cancel title.