Perrault, Claude (1613-1688) Memoir's for a Natural History of Animals. London: by Joseph Streater, to be sold by T. Basset, et al., 1688. First edition in English, small folio, engraved frontispiece, title page printed in red and black, two parts in one volume, including separate title page and collation for The Measure of the Earth, the two illustrated with thirty-five full-page engravings, illustrations for the second work bound in the first; contents very good, bound in full contemporary speckled calf, rebacked, 11 1/2 x 8 in.
Perrault's philosophy of medicine sprung from Galen, Greek physician of the Roman era, who understood biology in terms of the four humors (i.e., black bile, yellow bile, phlegm, and blood). As the Age of Enlightenment saw the development of animal and plant classification systems, believers in a mechanistic theory of animal function, like Perrault and Buffon resisted. In mechanism, living things are thought to be akin to complicated machines, containing parts that lack any intrinsic relationship to one another. Although Galenism and mechanism kept Perrault from make significant contributions to modern biology, his work maintains its own inherent scientific value, given the parameters of his philosophies, and also serves to document the steps and missteps along the way to a better understanding of biology.
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