Observations on Man. 2nd.edn. 3 vols.

HARTLEY David (1791)


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His frame, his duty, and his expectations.Second Edition. 3 volumes. 8vo. xvi, xv, 512; xii, 455; ix, 457-768, xii pp. Contemporary tree calf, red morocco spine labels, yellow edges, hinges very slightly weak, some light rubbing to extremities, some very occasional and very light spotting.London: J. Johnson,

This is the second edition of David Hartley's (1705-1757) 'Observations on Man', the first was published in 1749. A quarto edition was also published in the same year as the present copy. What differs from this edition to the original, is that it was edited by David Hartley's eldest son, also named David Hartley (1731-1813).

'Observations' is "a seminal attempt to extend Newtonian science to the study of human nature" (ODNB). Hartley argued that the body's component particales are "subjected to the same subtle laws" (1, prop. 9) as are all other material entities.These subtle laws are those Newton hinted at in the 'Queries' to his Opticks, and upon which Hales based his chemical theory. Hartley's doctrine of vibrations is thus a neurophysiology constructed on the basis of Newtonian speculative physics: when sound strikes the eardrum or light the eye, the spheres of attraction and repulsion surrounding the particles in the relevant nerves vibrate, and the vibrations move along the nerves and into the brain, where the signals travel both to the region dedicated to the sensory modality and also to regions that are associated with it. This last point is crucial, for without such 'joint impression' of signals from different sensory modalities, an organism would be unable to co-ordinate vision with hearing or either with movement (ODNB).

Provenance: 1. Thomas Farrar (signed and inscribed at the head of the title-page of volume one "This book was written by my great uncle on my mother's side", and with his occasional annotations); 2. I.A. Shapiro, Donne scholar and academic at Birmingham University (signed in ink with his note in pencil "This is the edition Wordsworth & Coleridge must have used").

Stock Code: 56578

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