Lucca, Iacinto Pace, 1673

Responsiones Ioannis Maffei Civis Pisani…ad Accusationes Petri Gassendi…Adversus Aristotelem, & Aristoteleos….

Bound in contemporary stiff vellum, title stenciled in ink on spine. Upper joint of back cover splitting but sound; some minor foxing on title, otherwise impeccable.

Very rare first and sole edition of this polemic against Gassendi and his followers, by a Pisan clergyman. Canon Maffei here strenuously defends Aristotelian philosophy as the correct basis for questions of physics, astronomy, and theology, against the attacks which Gassendi had encouraged in his Exercitationes paradoxicae adversus Aristoteleos (1624).

The work is organised in a traditional scholastic format, consisting of 409 arguments presented as Gassendi’s brief accusations followed by Maffei’s lengthier responses. Canon Maffei’s work was clearly written in response to the contemporary reaction against Aristotle led in part by Gassendi, which attempted to banish all scholastic and Aristotelian content from physics and theology (Garin, History of Italian Philosophy). The present work testifies to the wide circulation of such views a generation after Gassendi’s death, when they were propounded by followers such as Alessandro Marchetti and the ‘new atomists’, against whom the present work was likely directed. Maffei makes frequent reference to the great Italian defender of Aristotle, Giacomo Zabarella

Responsiones Ioannis Maffei…ad Accusationes Petri Gassendi joins the persistent ranks of clerical defences of Aristotle against Gassendi and the Epicureans: Maffei’s work predates that of Giovanni Battista de Benedictis (1694) and Tommaso Ceva (1704) among others. Curiously, the work - specifically advocating a return to traditional physics and cosmology - is dedicated to Cardinal Leopoldo de Medici, brother of the Grand Duke of Tuscany. Leopoldo, a celebrated patron of the arts and sciences, took a keen interest in the ‘new science’ and is recognised as the co-founder of the Academia del Cimento – ‘Academy of Experiment’ – composed mainly of followers of Galileo.

OCLC lists only the Darmouth copy in the US; the work is correspondingly rare in European institutions.

* ICCU 006087; see also Garin, History of Italian philosophy, Volume 1, pp. 623-4.

Price: $4,600.00