Item #66930 Systême de la nature. Paul Henri Thiry HOLBACH, Baron d'.
Systême de la nature

Systême de la nature. Ou Des loix du monde physique & du monde moral. Par M. Mirabaud.

Amsterdam: Marc-Michel Rey, 1770.

“The Bible of Materialism”

[HOLBACH, Paul Henri Thiry, baron d’]. Systême de la nature. Ou Des loix du monde physique & du monde moral. Par M. Mirabaud. Londres [i.e., Amsterdam: Marc-Michel Rey], 1770.

First edition. Two volumes, octavo. [12], 370; [4], 412 pp.

Contemporary speckled calf with covers ruled in blind. Elaborately gilt spine with burgundy morocco label, gilt board edges, marbled endpapers, edges stained red. Joints and extremities rubbed. Occasional light foxing and browning, primarily to first and last few leaves of each volume. Generally, a very good, crisp copy. In a quarter morocco clamshell case.

Paul Heinrich Dietrich, Baron d’Holbach (1723-1789) first became known as a scientist, contributing some four hundred articles to the Encyclopédie of his friend and colleague Denis Diderot. Holbach later turned from science to more dangerous topics, writing and having published abroad, a number of books attacking religion in all aspects, which flooded illegally into France. Unable to publish safely under his own name, he had the ingenious idea of using the names of recently dead French authors. Thus, in 1770, his most famous book, “The System of Nature,” appeared under the name of Jean-Baptiste Mirabaud.

“In the Système Holbach rejected the Cartesian mind-body dualism and attemped to explain all phenomena, physical and mental, in terms of matter in motion. He derived the moral and intellectual faculties from man’s sensibility to impressions made by the external world, and saw human actions as entirely determined by pleasure and pain. He continued his direct attack on religion by attempting to show that it derived entirely from habit and custom. But the Système was not a negative or desctructive book: Holbach rejected religion because he saw it as a wholly harmful influence, and he tried to supply a more desirable alternative. In fact, he outlined a whole ethical and political philosophy, which he expanded in his later works” (Printing and the Mind of Man).

Goldsmiths’ Library 10607. Kress 6737. Printing and the Mind of Man 215.

HBS 66930.


Price: $3,250.00

Item #66930

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