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WHITEHEAD, Alfred North, & Bertrand Russell.

Principia Mathematica.

Volume I [–III].

Cambridge: at the University Press, 1910-12-13 Stock Code: 139071
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"The greatest single contribution to logic since Aristotle" - a rare complete set in original cloth

First editions, a rare complete set of Whitehead and Russell's Principia Mathematica. The first volume was printed in 750 copies and, due to the disappointing sales, the publishers reduced the printings of volumes II and III to 500 copies each, so that only 500 complete sets in first edition are possible.

Principia Mathematica is the authors' hugely ambitious attempt to construct "the whole body of mathematical doctrine by logical deduction from the basis of a small number of primitive ideas and a small number of primitive principles of logical inference" (DSB, XII, p. 14). The belief that mathematics can be derived from logic is not only one of the principal philosophical theories of the foundation of mathematics, it has also provided some of the most important results in the formal analysis of mathematical concepts (cf. Frege, Peano). This belief found its fullest expression in Principia Mathematica. A fourth volume, dealing with the applications to geometry, was planned but never finished, as both men turned their attention away from mathematics and towards philosophy.

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3 volumes, large octavo. Original dark blue cloth, spines lettered in gilt and ruled in blind, double fillet border to boards in blind, edges of vol. 1 sprinkled red. Housed in a dark blue leather entry slipcase by the Chelsea Bindery.


Spine ends gently bruised, minor rubbing to extremities, the cloth clean and fresh overall. Vol. 1: later ownership inscription to front free endpaper, "Dolf Mootham Dec. 1990"; Mootham (1933-2015) was chief financial officer of merchant bank Hill Samuel in 1977, and became the finance director of Trustee Savings Bank in 1988. A few tiny marks to front pastedown, some neatly pencilled marginal annotations, predominately to the opening chapters. Vol. 2: bookplate of Royal Holloway College to front pastedown, a few subsequent library markings (evidence of previously affixed labels to cloth and front free endpaper; "withdrawn" stamp to half-title; three further stamps and one unobtrusive pencilled shelfmark). Corners a little worn, tiny hole to top margin of pp. 165-166. Vol. 3: gilt dulled, very faint discolouration to bottom corners of boards, front and rear free endpapers browned. In all a very good set, internally crisp.


Blackwell & Ruja A9.1a; Church, Bibliography of Symbolic Logic, 194.1-3 (one of a handful of works marked by Church as being "of especial interest or importance"); Martin 101.01-03; see Kneebone, Mathematical Logic (1963), p. 161ff.


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