Disquisitions Relating to Matter and Spirit.

PRIESTLEY Joseph (1777.)

£450.00  [First Edition]

Available to view at our Curzon Street shop.

To which is added, the history of the philosophical doctrine concerning the origin of the soul, and the nature of matter; with its influence on Christianity, especially with respect to the doctrine of the pre-existence of Christ.

First edition. 8vo. xxxix, [2], 356, [4, publisher's advertisements] pp., engraved frontispiece after Bartolozzi. With the half title. Contemporary mottled calf, spine elaborately panelled in gilt, lettered in gilt on red morocco label, covers with single gilt fillet borders, marbled endpapers. A very fine copy. London, J. Johnson.

One of Priestley's principal metaphysical works, written as an elucidation and defence of his monist materialism and ideas on the unity of body and soul. Deeply controversial in its time, Priestley's Disquisitions contains a refutation of Cartesian dualism as erroneous insofar mind and spirit are actually part of material being, presenting matter as capable of thought and perception and dismissing the existence of a nonphysical soul. Despite widespread charges of atheism, "Priestley saw matter as the manifestation of spiritual force and determinism as an active acceptance of causality in the will of God" (ODNB).

Provenance: from the library of the scholar and bibliographer John Stephens (1948-2006), with his small bookplate to the front pastedown.

Stock Code: 233490

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