NEATLY BOUND EARLY 18TH CENTURY MANUSCRIPT COURSE ‘PHISICA SEU SCIENTIA…

NEATLY BOUND EARLY 18TH CENTURY MANUSCRIPT COURSE ‘PHISICA SEU SCIENTIA NATURAE’. by [PHYSICS.] < >
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Citing Newton

NEATLY BOUND EARLY 18TH CENTURY MANUSCRIPT COURSE ‘PHISICA SEU SCIENTIA NATURAE’. penned in a single hand in Latin, n.p., n.d. but ca.

1700. 8vo, pp. 289, [1] blank, [12] index and conclusions, [2] blank; with mounted engraved allegorical frontispiece, and 33 neat illustrations in pen and ink; some occasional light foxing and soiling; bound in contemporary full vellum, using old manuscript, all edges red, spine in compartments with raised bands, spine lettered in manuscript ‘Phisica’ and the name ‘Failly’, covers a little soiled and scuffed, boards sprung; a good copy. Attractively compiled and illustrated (though sadly anonymous) manuscript outlining a course in natural philosophy, penned in a neat, tight, readable cursive hand, typical, we believe, of the early 18th century. The course follows the tradition of Aristotelian and Thomistic philosophy, which was taught in the form of a ‘Compendium philosophiae’ at most seminaries and theological faculties. This extensive Latin manuscript is divided into four parts: ‘De corpore illius que affectionibus’ (p.2-23); ‘De motu’ (24-89; ‘De staticâ’ (90-174 and including hystrostatics); and ‘De mundo praecipuis que ejus partibus’ (174-289), with a final index and some a final short section of conclusions. Thus discussion is given over to the laws of nature and of movement, the main laws of motion, on specific gravities, volume, sections on levers, pulleys and winding machines. The final section dealing with the ‘De mundo’ and celestial mechanics, including discussions of existing astronomical models by Ptolemy, Copernicus, Brahe, and Descartes. Whilst the whole work seems to be firmly rooted in Cartesianism, what is of interest is that Newtonian theory is also touched upon, pointing again to having been compiled in the early part of the 18th century. By 1728 a pro-Cartesian/anti-Newtonian discourse came to define much of the scientific discourse over the next three decades. In that year, Fontenelle, by championing the work of Privat de Molières who challenged Newtonian theory and defended Descartes' theory of celestial mechanics, transformed the debate into a far more vehement discourse, one in which an irreconcilable choice had to be made between the two rival positions.
The manuscript includes 33 neatly drawn figures in ink, with those in the section relating to machines and mechanics particularly detailed. Though the compiler and associated educational establishment may be anonymous, this appealing volume nevertheless provides a fascinating insight into scientific curriculum and education of the time.
The compiler has mounted an attractive allegorical frontispiece engraving, from a so far unidentified work. It depicts a seated female muse, her right arm resting on three quartos (fore-edge facing front suggesting 17th century), holding a sceptre in her left hand, her left arm resting against a globe, below which can be seen more books. A column of lime trees is visible in the background, as is a fine building.
The name "Failly" has been inscribed beneath the frontispiece as well as on the spine. The BnF note two legal manuscripts dated 1702 and 1710 respectively, both of which have been signed by a ‘Failly’, though we have been unable to compare signatures. As far as we have been able to establish the present course was never published.

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