CONDORCET, Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas Caritat.

Outlines of an Historical View of the Progress of the Human Mind:

being a posthumous work. Translated from the French.

London: Printed for J. Johnson, 1795 Stock Code: 128561
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The greatest statement of the Enlightenment belief in progress

First edition in English of Esquisse d'un tableau historique des progrès de l'esprit humain, originally published earlier the same year in Paris. Condorcet's tract is the clearest and boldest statement of the enlightenment belief in progress. Condorcet wrote the work in 1794 while in hiding from Robespierre's agents, having voted against the execution of the king. Captured by the state, he was found dead the next day, presumed to have taken his own life to escape the guillotine. His manuscript was published the next year. "In the Esquisse... Condorcet traces the history of man through epochs, the first three covering his progress from savagery to pastoral community and thence to the agricultural state. The next five span the growth of civilizations, and knowledge down to Descartes, and the ninth describes the revolution of Condorcet's own lifetime, from Newton to Rousseau. The prophetic view of the tenth epoch shows Condorcet at his most original. He forecasts the destruction of inequality between nations and classes, and the improvement, intellectual, moral and physical, of human nature" (PMM).

This copy was owned by a contemporary owner who was highly hostile to Condorcet and his idealism, and who annotated numerous passages with anti-Condorcet comments. At one point he writes "foolish theorems" and that he wishes the author lived "to see the present state of France"; at another he writes "mark the drift of the author's affections, his hatred to kings, and the passion with which he vomits up his fanaticism". A reference to Napoleon places these annotations from around 1800 to 1815. A later 19th-century owner seems more inclined to Condorcet however, writing under one of the annotations simply "you lie".

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Octavo (205 x 125 mm). Recent blue morocco, spine lettered in gilt, spine bands and covers ruled in gilt, marbled endpapers, gilt edges.


Contemporary ownership inscription to title page, a couple of instances of underlining, numerous annotations in a contemporary hand, occasionally very slightly cropped. Half-title present with small chip at top left corner. Binding in fine condition; some light foxing and blemishes to contents. A very good copy.


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