“Can Man Become Perfect?”
CONDORCET, Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas Caritat, Marquis de. Esquisse d'un tableau historique. des progrès de l'esprit humain. Ouvrage posthume de Condorcet. Paris: Chez Agasse , 1795.
First edition of Condorcet’s philosophical masterpiece. Octavo (7 7/8 x 4 13/16 inches; 201 x 123 mm). viii, 389, [1, blank] pp.

Contemporary quarter calf over dark blue paste-paper boards, spine gilt with dotted bands and ornaments, gilt red morocco lettering piece. Old owner's signature on half-title. A quarter-inch marginal tear at the bottom of leaf M42 that does not affect the text. Light foxing throughout. A blue ink stain on top edge from signature Z to the end. Overall, a clean and attractive copy.

“It was the gospel of the nineteenth century that mankind is destined for indefinite future progress. Condorcet [1743-1794], looking back and then forward, saw proof of this in the growing equality between classes and nations, the intellectual, physical and moral improvement of man; and he prophesied that popular education on correct principles would strengthen and assure this progress...In the Esquisse [‘An Historical Outline of the Progress of the Human Mind’], published after his death, 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...it is as the most fully developed exposition of the progress of man that Condorcet’s work is now remembered, and it is this which has given its lasting appeal” (Printing and the Mind of Man).

Printing and the Mind of Man 246.

HBS # 65358 $2,000