De naturalium effectuum causis, sive de Incantationibus, Opus abstrusioris philosophiae plenum, & brevissimis historiis illustratum atque ante annox XXXV compositum, nunc primum uerò in lucem fideliter editum. Adiectis breuibus scholijs à Gulielmo Grataro lo Physico Bergomate. Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas. [i.e. De Incantationibus].

Basel, [Per Henrichum Petri, 1556 - on colophon].

An absolutely lovely copy of the exceedingly scarce first edition, first printing, of one of the most influential and important works in the history of modern thought. A work that has for a long time been overlooked due to the gross neglect of the history of Renaissance philosophy, but which has nonetheless been seminal to the development of scientific and philosophical thought from the 16th century and onwards. With a purely naturalistic and immanent view of the natural process, Pomponazzi here frees man's thought from the bounds of religion and provides modern thinkers and scientists with pure empiricism and naturalism. "Er will das "Wissen" and die Stelle des "Glaubens" stellen" - "die "dämonische" Kausalität des Glaubens weicht der Kausalität der Wissenschaft" (Cassirer, p. 110 + 111).

8vo. Contemporary full limp vellum, with vellum cords to hinges. Remains of vellum ties to boards. A bit of brownspotting, but all in all a lovely, completely unrestored copy in its first binding. Five large woodcut initials and large woodcut printer's device to verso of last leaf. (16), 349, (3).

Adams: P-1827; Wellcome: I:5153; DSB: XI:71-74.

A.H. Douglas: "The Philosophy and Psychology of Pietro Pomponazzi", 1910.
M.L. Pine: "Pietro Pomponazzi: Radical Philosoper of the Renaissance", 1986.
Thorndyke: "A History of Magic and Experimental Science", Vol. V, 1966 (4th printing)
P.O. Kristeller: "Eight Philosophers of the Italian Renaissance", 1965.
J.H. Randall, in: "The Renaissance Philosophy of Man", 1956 (4th impression).
B.P. Copenhaver & C.B. Schmitt: "Renaissance Philosophy", 1992.
E. Cassirer: "Individuum und Kosmos in der Philosophie der renaissance", 1969 (3. Aufl. - orig. 1927).

See also: Kristeller: "Renaissance Thought and its Sources"; "Medieval Aspects of Renaissance Learning"; "Renaissance Thought II, Papers on Humanism and the Arts".

"Pomponazzi's thought and reputation were extremely influential in the centuries after his death. Even before it was printed, his treatise "On incantations" circulated widely in manuscript among philosophers, physicians and early modern naturalists (see Zanier 1975). Due to his mortalist theory of the soul, 17th-century "free thinkers" regarded Pomponazzi as one of their own, portraying him as an atheist (see Kristeller 1968; Paganini 1985). Enlightenment thinkers of the 18th century pushed to extremes his distinction between natural reason and faith, while 19th-century positivists, such as Ernest Renan and Roberto Ardigò, saw in Pomponazzi a forerunner of their own beliefs and a champion of naturalism and empiricism." (SEP).

Exceedingly scarce first edition of Pomponazzi's seminal "De Incantationibus", perhaps the most original work of natural philosophy of the Renaissance and arguably the first work of what comes to be the Enlightenment. The work, which is one of Pomponazzi's most important productions (along with his treatise on the immortality of the soul), constitutes a forerunner of Naturalism and Empiricism and could be considered the first true Enlightenment work ever, causing Pomponazzi, our greatest Renaissance philosopher, to be generally considered "The last Scholastic and the first man of the Enlightenment" (Sandy, Randall, Kristeller). The appeal to experience is the main concern of the work, and its strict and completely novel way of treating the subject matter resulted in a hitherto unattained elevated position of philosophy in the Latin West, providing to philosophy a new method that remains dominant to this day and without which we would scarcely be able to imagine modern philosophy. Proclaiming the victory of philosophy over religion, the "de Incantationibus" changed the entire history of philosophy - philosophy being to Pomponazzi the supreme truth and the final judge of all phenomena.

"Pomponazzi's conclusion [in the "De Incantationibus] results from a dramatic change in method which in turn is based on a profoundly new attitude toward philosophical inquiry. Medieval theologians and philosophers as well as most Renaissance thinkers were content to limit the role of reason in nature because they sincerely believed that the Christian God intervened in the natural order to create miraculous occurrences. As we have seen, this belief prevented their scientific convictions from destroying Christian doctrine by exempting central Biblical miracles from natural process. Even those who held that Christian revelation and Aristotelian science were irreconcilable maintained a sincere fideism which allowed each universe to remain intact, each standing separate from the other. But once Pomponazzi applied the critical method of Aristotelian science to all religious phenomena, Christian miracles were engulfed by the processes of nature. Absorbed by the "usual course of nature", the miracle could no longer be the product of divine fiat. Indeed Christianity itself became merely another historical event, taking its place within the recurring cycles of nature, and destined to have a temporal career within the eternal flow of time." (Pine, p. 273).

"De Incantationibus" constitutes one of the single most important works of the Renaissance. Bringing everything in the world under the general laws of nature, the history of religion as well as all other facts in experience, "De Incantationibus" gives us, for the first time in the history of philosophy an outline of a philosophy of nature and of religion, an outline that came to be seminal in the history of philosophy and science throughout the following centuries. With the main aim of the work being to determine the fact that there is no such thing as "supernatural", no magic, no omens, no witchcraft, no divine intervention, no apparitions, etc., etc. - all marvelous events and powers observed in experience or recorded in history have their natural, scientific explanation, they are all within the scope of principles common to all nature -, it is no wonder that it was placed on the index of forbidden books immediately upon its publication, as the only of Pomponazzi's works ever. The analysis of the history of religions and the theory of the nature and use of prayer that Pomponazzi here develops is hugely interesting and so far ahead of its time that one hardly believes it. E.g. the notion that religious doctrines all aim, through fables and myths (which he disproves), to preserve the social order rather than to discover the truth, is not something you will find in any other work of the Middle Ages or the Renaissance. "[H]e brings the whole phenomena of religious history - the changes of religious belief, and the phases of thaumaturgic power - under certain universal laws of nature. Of these facts as of all others, he suggests, there is a natural and a rational explanation; in them the powers that are at work in all nature are still operative; and they are subject to the laws and conditions that govern nature generally - the laws of change, of development, of growth and decay, and transformation in decay." (Douglas, p. 299).

"In regard to the religious issue, I have tried to show that he makes a claim for the absolute truth of philosophy and relegates religion to the purely practical function of controlling the masses. Religious doctrines contain a kind of truth because they can persuade men to act so as to preserve the social order. But religious doctrine has social value rather than speculative veracity. [...] rational truth is the only truth. It is really compatible only with complete disbelief. And I think that this is the statement that Pomponazzi makes. The only doctrines that he accepts are those of philosophy. Philosophy rejects the personal Christian God acting within history and eliminates the miracles of religion. Philosophy reduces to the absurd the notion of a life after death. And finally philosophy destroys revelation itself by viewing it as the product of heavenly forces rather than the act of divine will." (Pine, pp. 34-35).

The work was originally written in 1520, but was not published in Pomponazzi's life-time. It circulated in manuscript form, however, and was also as such widely noted. In 1552, 27 years after Pomponazzi's death, the manuscript was brought to Basel by Pomponazzi's student Guglielmo Gratarolo, who had had to flee Italy due to his anti-religious views. Here, in Basel, he had the book printed for the first time, with a foreword written by himself, in 1556. This was the very first time that the book was published, as it had also not been included in the standard edition of Pomponazzi's collected works, published at Venice the year after his death, 1525 - presumably due to its dangerous and revolutionary views.
In his preface, Gratarolo expresses fear that someone may think him either over curious or less Christian for publishing this book. He furthermore explains that he had purchased the manuscript 20 years earlier and brought it with him North when leaving Italy 6 years previously. "Granting, however, that there may be something in the work which does not entirely square with Christianity, Gratarolo thinks that it should not be suppressed or withheld from the scholarly public, since it contains more solid physics and abstruse philosophy than do many huge commentaries of certain authors taken together." (Thorndyke, V, p. 99-100).

Come the Renaissance, the idea of eliminating demons and angels and attempts at a showdown with magical transformations and the like were not completely novel in themselves. Much scientific thinking of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance carried such beliefs that had in some form or other been current for a long time. But up until Pomponazzi's treatise, these ideas had always been surrounded by hesitance and a clear aim at still protecting the miraculous nature of Christianity itself, not leading the theories forward and not letting them bear any relevance. "Let us pause here a moment to estimate the place of this radical treatise [i.e. "De Incantationibus"] in the history of European rationalism. [...] It was Pomponazzi's achievement to go beyond these earlier hesitations and qualifications, particularly in regard to the astrological determination of religious belief. By dramatic shifts of emphasis and the extension of certain ideas to their logical limits, Pomponazzi utterly transformed the context in which these earlier views occurred. In their newly radicalized form, they challenged the supremacy of revelation by elevating philosophy to a position hitherto unattained in the Latin West". (Pine, p. 268).

"[...] Even this brief sketch makes clear that Pomponazzi came at the end of a long scientific tradition which had absorbed, and to some degree, subordinated Aristotelian-Arabic science and astrology to the Christian universe. But if we look at each strand of this tradition, we can see how Pomponazzi carried these concepts to their furthest limits." (Pine, pp. 268-72).

Pomponazzi clearly sought to explain all miraculous cures, events, etc. through natural powers. All sequences and concoctions which could seem magical or supernatural are within the same framework as other observed sequences and concoctions in nature. We may not be able to explain all of them (although Pomponazzi does attempt in the treatise to provide specific and elaborate natural, physical explanations of a large number of "magical" and "supernatural" events), but that is merely a lack in our intellect or understanding and by no means because these occurrences or events are not governed by nature and the physical laws of nature.

"This whole mode of explanation of the marvelous in nature and history is constantly pitted against the orthodox theory which attributed magic and miracles to the agency of angels or demons. The book "De naturalium Effectuum Causis" is a uniform polemic against that theory, as essentially a vulgar superstition. It is the tendency of the vulgar mind, he says, always to ascribe to diabolic or angelic agency events whose causes it does not understand." (Douglas, p. 275).

"These fictions are designed to lead us to truth and to instruct the common people who must be led to the good life and turned away from evil just like children, that is to say, by the hope of reward and the fear of punishment; and it is by these vulgar motives that they are led to spiritual knowledge, just as children pass from delicate nourishment to more solid nourishment. Hence it is not far from my concept or from the truth that Plato taught the existence of angels and demons not because he believed in them but because it was his aim to instruct the ignorant." (Pomponazzi, "De Incantationibus", 10, pp. 201-202).

In order to understand the monumental accomplishment of Pomponazzi's "De Incantationibus", one must realize which tradition he is inscribed in, namely that of Italian Aristotelianism (as opposed mainly to the Renaissance Platonism). It is within this long tradition that he effects a revolution. "In the Italian schools alone the emerging science of nature did not mean a sharp break with reigning theological interests. To them it came rather as the natural outcome of a sustained and co-operative criticism of Aristotelian ideas. Indeed, that mathematical and mechanical development which by the end of the sixteenth century produced Galileo owes very little to the Platonic revival but received powerful stimulus from the critical Aristotelianism of the Italian universities." (Ren. Phil. of Man, p. 12).

Pomponazzi stood at a crossroad in the history of Aristotelianism. He still studied the great logicians and natural philosophers of the 14th century, which his Italian humanistic colleagues had given up (focusing instead on "man" and his place in the universe), but at the same time he had a highly original approach to the teachings of Aristotle and a unique uninhibited approach to the nature of the universe, and he responded philosophically to the achievements of humanism, always seeking the truth and the "naturalist" explanation.

Of that critical Aristotelianism which sought to find the true meaning of the works of Aristotle, lay them bare, and develop them further to find the true nature of the universe, to explain how the world functions without any preconceived notions (like the belief in Christ, etc.), Pomponazzi was a forerunner. With his "De Incantationibus", this "last scholastic and the first man of the Enlightenment" paved the way for the Enlightenment of the centuries to come, for rational free thinking. His quest against the theologians and "his scorn for all comfortable and compromising modernism in religion, and his sober vision of the natural destiny of man" (Randall, p. 268) combined with his refusal to leave the bounds of the Aristotelian tradition, his meticulous use of the medieval method of refutation, and his thorough rationalism, enabled him to revolutionize the Aristotelianism of the 16th century - and indeed the entire trajectory of philosophy of the ages to come - and invoke the period of scientific free-thinking that breaks free of Christian doctrines and which later comes to be the Enlightenment. "Against Pico's denial of astrology as incompatible with human freedom, he tried to make an orderly and rational science of the stars, opposed to all superstition - the naturalist's answer to the Humanist". (Randall, p. 277).

"During the twelve decades or so between Pomponazzi's arrival (1484) and Galileo's departure in 1610, the learned community that Shakespeare called "fair Padua, nursery of arts", achieved a distinction in scientific and medical studies unmatched elsewhere in Europe. Thus, Pomponazzi's career in northern Italy brought him close to the most exciting advances of his time in science and medicine. In keeping with the nature of his university appointments, he approached Aristotle from a perspective quite distant from Bruni's humanism or Lefèvre's theologizing. [...] Pomponazzi's Aristotelianism developed entirely within the framework of natural philosophy". (Copenhaver & Schmitt, p. 105).

"With this final explanation, Pomponazzi has discovered natural causes for all miraculous events and hence has eliminated the miracle as a category for understanding the process of nature. [...] As we have seen, Pomponazzi's theory offers three fundamental natural explanations of events which Christianity ascribes to the miraculous intervention of angels and demons. [...] Here Pomponazzi's method takes its most radical turn. Biblical miracles are now also found to have natural causes. Moses, we learn, performed his task by natural means. The "dead" revived by the prophets were not really dead. And the acts of Christ and the Apostles can be explained "within natural limits"." (Pine, pp. 254-56).

"The histories of other religions record miracles similar to those of Christianity, and Pomponazzi justifies his frequent citation of historians in a philosophical work as authorities for past natural events of rare occurrence. Such is the most detailed and carefully worked out, the most plausible and at the same time most sweeping expression of the doctrine of astrological control over the history and development of religions that I have seen in any Latin author." (Thorndyke V, pp. 108-9).


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DKK 245.000,00