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Book/Printed Material Renati Des-Cartes Principia philosophiae. Des Cartes philosophia

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About this Item


  • Renati Des-Cartes Principia philosophiae.

Other Title

  • Des Cartes philosophia


  • René Descartes (1596-1650) was a French mathematician, scientific thinker, and philosopher who made important contributions to mathematics, optics, epistemology, and other fields that helped to shape how the modern world came to see nature and the human mind. The son of a lawyer, he was educated at the Jesuit College of La Flèche and in Poitiers, where he studied law. He became a soldier and served in the armies of Maurice, Prince of Orange, and Maximilian I, Duke of Bavaria. He wrote numerous books, in Latin and in French. Presented here is the first edition of his Principia philosophiae (Principles of philosophy), published in Amsterdam in 1644 by the Dutch printer and bookseller Louis Elzevir. The book was an ambitious attempt by Descartes to set forth, in textbook form, an entire system of thought about the nature of matter, the nature of the mind, and the activity of God in creating and setting in motion the universe. The book is in four parts. Part I deals with metaphysics, and such questions as cognition, the sources of human knowledge and understanding, and the relationship between a perfect, all-knowing God and human error, both intellectual and moral. Part II covers the general principles of physics and the theory of the laws of motion. Part III is devoted to astronomical phenomena. Part IV concerns the properties of minerals, metals, magnets, and other natural phenomena and their apprehension by the senses. The book is bound with a second work, Specimina philosophiae, which is a translation from French into Latin, with revisions, of other writings by Descartes, notably his Discours de la méthode (Discourse on the method) of 1637. World Digital Library.


  • Descartes, René, 1596-1650.
  • Elzevir, Louis, 1604-1670, printer.
  • John Davis Batchelder Collection (Library of Congress)
  • Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection (Library of Congress)

Created / Published

  • Amstelodami, apud Ludovicum Elzevirium, 1644.


  • -  Philosophy
  • -  Netherlands--Amsterdam


  • -  Title vignette: device of Louis Elzevir.
  • -  Last preliminary leaf (sig. b[4]) blank.
  • -  Library of Congress. Lessing J. Rosenwald collection, 1431
  • -  Also available in digital form on the Library of Congress Web site.
  • -  Choice/form AACR2: vj39 08-15-96
  • -  LAC ecr 2018-10-16 update (2 cards)
  • -  LAC ddw 2022-02-16 update (1 card)


  • 12 p.l., 310 p. illus., diagrs. 21 cm.

Call Number/Physical Location

  • B1860 1644
  • B1860 1644 Copy 2 Rosenwald copy. Bound with the author's Specimina philosophiae. Amstelodami, 1644. Copy 1.
  • B1860 1644 Copy 3 Batchelder copy. Bound with the author's Specimina philosophiae. Amstelodami, 1644. Copy 2.

Digital Id

Library of Congress Control Number

  • 46028327

Online Format

  • image
  • pdf

Additional Metadata Formats

Rights & Access

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Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Descartes, René, Louis Elzevir, John Davis Batchelder Collection, and Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection. Renati Des-Cartes Principia philosophiae. Amstelodami, apud Ludovicum Elzevirium, 1644. Pdf.

APA citation style:

Descartes, R., Elzevir, L., John Davis Batchelder Collection & Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection. (1644) Renati Des-Cartes Principia philosophiae. Amstelodami, apud Ludovicum Elzevirium. [Pdf] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Descartes, René, et al. Renati Des-Cartes Principia philosophiae. Amstelodami, apud Ludovicum Elzevirium, 1644. Pdf. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.