online exhibition

rare book library



natural philosophy

previous page next page

Descartes, René (1596-1650)
De homine figuris : et latinitate donatus a Florentio Schuyl.
Lugduni Batavorum : Ex Officinâ Hackiana, 1664.

Image from Descartes' De homine figuris

Descartes worked on the The Treatise on Man in the early 1630s, but decided not to publish it on hearing of the condemnation of Galileo in 1633: it first appeared in Latin translation in 1642, and in the original French in 1644. It offers the first comprehensive mechanist animal physiology, and was a source of inspiration for many, Malebranche recording that he had palpitations of the heart on first opening it. La Mettrie's Man Machine (1747) claimed to apply Descartes' account to human beings, and Cartesian physiology was extensively criticised as a result. It remains Descartes' least understood work.

Another image from Descartes' De homine figuris
previous page next page