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Universae Naturae Theatrum, In quo rerum omnium effectrices causae, & fines contemplantur, & continuae series quinque libris discutiuntur. - [THE FINAL EXPRESSION OF BODIN'S PHILOSOPHY]


Lyon, Jacob Roussin, 1596. 8vo. Contemporary limp vellum. Title-page printed in red and black. A fine copy. (16), 633 pp.

The rare first edition of Bodin's great final work, his main contribution to the field of natural philosophy, "The Theatre of Nature", which was written in 1590, but published for the first time in the year of his death, 1596. In spite of the fact that the "Theatrum" has been somewhat neglected by modern scholars and has for instance never translated into English in 1997, it is in fact one of his most important works. It constitutes the most systematic exposition of Bodin's vision of the world and is the culmination point of his systematic examination of things, revealing to us the full extent of his entire philosophy.In this Bodin's magnum opus of natural history, a completely new type of natural philosophy is constructed, one which attempts to combine religion with philosophy. By combining philosophical research concerning causes with a pious recognition of divine providence and the greatness of God, Bodin constantly reminds us of the importance of reason and reasoning at the same time that he refers to the Holy Scripture. Jean Bodin (1529/30 - 1596), "one of the towering figures in the history of French thought" (Scott), was a lawyer, economist, natural philosopher, historian, and one of the major political theorists of the sixteenth century. His main work, the "Six livres de la république" is one of the most important works of modern political thought. Here Bodin gave the first systematic statement of sovereignty and coined the term "political science". With his theory of the State and statement of Sovereignty, he fundamentally changed the history of political thought in the West. The "Six livres de la république" is Bodin's most famous and frequently read work, and ever since the 18th century, it has completely overshadowed everything else that he wrote. In the 17th century, however, Bodin's "Theatrum" was considered very important to the understanding of Bodin's entire philosophical system, including the political. It is the only one of his works that attempts to actually do that which he ever since the beginning of his career set out to do: to methodologically study all things, human and divine.Bodin does this in a manner that made it universally understandable. "While its erudition and philosophical originality suited it well to professors and scholars, Bodin's "Theatrum" was also designed to be pedagogical, with its question-and-answer format and its broad coverage of natural philosophy from first principles to metals and minerals, plants and animals, souls, angels, and the heavenly bodies." (Ann Blair, The Theater of Nature: Jean Bodin and Renaissance Science, p. 17). Tchemerzine: II:250.

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