A Brief Disquisition of the Law of Nature,

According to the Principles and Method laid down in the Reverend Dr. Cumberland's (now Lord Bishop of Peterborough's) Latin Treatise on that Subject. As also His Confutations of Mr. Hobbs's Principles put into another Method. With the Right Reverend Author's Approbation.

London: Richard Baldwin, 1692 Stock Code: 114483

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First edition, possibly early state as this copy does not include the errata leaf and leaf f1 is not cancelled and replaced with a bifolium, as is the case for the copy collated in ESTC. A Brief Disquisition of the Law of Nature is an abridged translation by political theorist and historian James Tyrrell of Richard Cumberland's treatise heralding English utilitarianism, De legibus naturae disquisitio philosophica (1671). Tyrrell's adaptation juxtaposed Cumberland's theories with John Locke's and further developed Cumberland's criticism of Thomas Hobbes. De legibus naturae argued that "science and reason could support the notion of a divinely ordained natural law, rather than subverting it as the work of Hobbes appeared to suggest" (ODNB). Cumberland's discussion has been described as "distinctly 'modern' because he arrives at his conclusions without discussion of scripture, and he generates ethical norms without a discussion of the afterlife. He also deployed recent scientific discoveries to back up his ethical claims and discussed morality in mathematical terms" (ibid.) Tyrrell was one of Locke's closest friends and his adaptation "drew upon Locke's unpublished 'Essays on the law of nature', and locates Locke in the modern school of natural jurisprudence inaugurated by Hugo Grotius; he sees this tradition as an instrument against Hobbist Epicureanism. Tyrrell's central axiom is that natural law is reducible to the duty to seek the common good of rational beings" (ibid.)

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Octavo (180 x 108 mm). Contemporary speckled calf, red morocco label, raised bands, twin blind fillet to boards, broad flower-head and leaf spray roll along joints in blind, edges speckled red. Bound with the imprimantur and the two leaves of ads at rear but without the errata leaf.


Small ownership signature to front pastedown. Short splits to heads of joints, two wormholes to tails of joints, closed tear to fore margin of signature O1, not affecting text, occasional light spotting. A very good copy.


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