Item #68606 Opera posthuma. Benedict de SPINOZA.
Opera posthuma
Opera posthuma
Opera posthuma

Opera posthuma. quorum series post præfationem exhibetur.

Amsterdam: Jan Rieuwertsz, 1677.

First Edition of Spinoza’s "Ethics"

S[PINOZA], B[enedict] d[e]. Opera posthuma, quorum series post præfationem exhibetur. [Amsterdam: Jan Rieuwertsz], 1677.

First edition of Spinoza’s Opera posthuma, which "have served, then and since, with the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, to immortalize his name" (Printing and the Mind of Man 153). Small quarto (8 1/4 x 6 1/8 inches; 208 x 157 mm). [40], 614, [32]; [2], 112, [8], [1, blank] pp. Without the engraved frontispiece portrait, found in only a very small number of copies and probably not originally issued with this edition. Woodcut illustrations and diagrams in the text. Woodcut vignette on title, decorative woodcut tail-piece and initials.

Contemporary calf, restored, maintaining original spine. Spine with red morocco gilt lettering label. Gilt dentelles. All edges dyed red. Marbled endpapers. With the bookplate on front pasteddown from the Library of the Bavarian Royal Family and on front free endpaper the bookplate and ink stamp of Dr. Wolfgang Kraemer. With green silk page marker. Some occasional light foxing, mainly to signatures Lll-Mmm. Still overall an excellent copy.

“The principal work in the Opera posthuma is Spinoza’s Ethics, in which Spinoza bridged the Cartesian duality of body and spirit by maintaining that the universe, including God, constituted a unified, infinite and all-inclusive ‘Substance,’ of which corporeality and spirituality were merely attributes—a unity expressed in the controversial phrase ‘Deus sive natura’ (God or nature). Ethics is thus considered the first systematic exposition of pantheism, the philosophy in which God is identified with the entire universe. The eighteenth-century philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder, in his reinterpretation of Spinoza (Gott [1787), parlayed Spinoza’s unified ‘Substance’ into the romantic concept of a spiritualized, living nature; this concept had a profound influence on the development of German Romanticism. The Opera posthuma also contains Spinoza’s De intellectus emendatione, the unfinished Tractatus politicius [sic], a selection of letters, and the separately paginated Compendium grammatices linguae hebrae” (Norman Library).

The collection was published by Jan Rieuwertsz, an Amsterdam bookseller and friend of Spinoza, and edited by Rieuwertsz and the merchant Jarig Jelles, who probably wrote the preface. “The most conspicuous idea of Spinoza’s philosophy is that there is only one substance, the infinite divine substance which is identified with Nature; Deus sive Natura, God or Nature. And a striking feature of this philosophy as it is presented in the Ethics is the geometrical form of its presentation. This work is divided into five parts in which the following subjects are treated in turn: God, the nature and origin of the mind, the origin and nature of the emotions, the power of the intellect or human freedom” (Copleston, A History of Philosophy IV, p. 206).

The engraved portrait “would doubtless not originally have been in the 1677 edition, since in that edition the author remains anonymous. This is confirmed by Jan Rieuwertsz jun., who in 1704 informed the German traveller Dr. Hallmann that the portrait was not executed until three or four years later” (Kingma & Offenberg).

Caillet 10309. Graesse VI, p. 470. Kingma & Offenberg 24. Norman Library 1988. Van der Linde 22. See Printing and the Mind of Man 153.

HBS 68606.


Price: $16,500.00

Item #68606