First Edition of "Examen Vanitatis"
PICO DELLA MIRANDOLA, Giovanni Francesco. Examen Vanitatis Doctrinae Gentivm. et veritatis christianae disciplinae : distinctvm in libros sex, qvorvm tres omnem philosophorvm sectam vniversim, reliqvi Aristoteleam et Aristoteleis armis particvlatim impvgnant, vbicunqve avtem christiana et asseritvr et celebratvr disciplina. Mirandola: Giov. Mazzochi , 1520.
First edition. Folio (11 15/16 x 8 5/16 inches; 303 x 211 mm). [6], 208 leaves.

Full marbled calf. Boards tooled in gilt. With gilt central device with the coat of arms of Pope Pius VI. Spine with two morocco spine labels, lettered in gilt. Edges dyed blue. Floral endpapers. With a tiny hole repaired in the final leaf. Otherwise an exceptionally clean copy.

Provenance: Giuseppe Martini, with his name and copious note in pencil on front free endpaper. Giuseppe Martini (1870-1944), is a famous bibliophile and the most important Italian antiquarian bookseller of his day.

This title was one of only two books printed at Mirandola and is an attack upon the ancient philosophers, particularly Plato and Aristotle. It is also interesting for its references to America on leaves l, clxxxiii, clxxxvii (according to the Morgan Library).

"Among the philosophers of the sixteenth century who deserve wider attention than they have hitherto received is Gianfrancesco Pico della Mirandola (1469- 1533). As nephew and near contemporary of the more famous member of the Pico family, Giovanni (1463-1494), he has often been obscured by his uncle's brilliance and originality in the eyes of later scholars. His own work as a philosopher, however, is not without interest, both for its content and for its historical importance."(Charles B. Schmitt).

"Gianfrancesco Pico della Mirandola was the nephew of the great Florentine humanist Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. He, like his uncle, became interested in the reform movement of Girolamo Savonarola (1452–1498) that was centered in the Convent of San Marco. The younger Pico della Mirandola moved into the convent and joined the group of scholars who took part in the daily discussions of philosophy and religion. His uncle moved into the convent in 1492 and placed his library there. Among the manuscripts brought to the convent by Pico della Mirandola and other scholars were five manuscript copies of Sextus Empiricus. Savonarola became interested in making these texts in Greek available to modern readers and asked two of his monks to begin preparing an edition of the writings of Sextus. This project never came to fruition, but some of it seems to be incorporated in the younger Pico della Mirandola's own publications.... In 1520 he published the first presentation of Greek skepticism in modern times, Examen vanitatis doctrinae gentium... (Examination of the vain doctrine of the gentiles and the true Christian teaching). The work was apparently written over at least fifteen to twenty years. Besides presenting arguments and analyses out of Sextus, it also contains a text by John Philoponus and Hasdai Crescas. It is curious that Pico della Mirandola includes the material from Crescas, which had not yet been published and only circulated in Hebrew manuscript. He may have gotten a text and its translation from Judah León Abrabanel (c. 1460–c. 1521), with whom he was in contact. Pico della Mirandola's skeptical work did not have wide circulation. It is cited by several people writing on philosophical topics, but it does not seem to have encouraged people to look further into skeptical thought. He was read by Gentian Hervetius (1499–1584), the translator of Sextus, and probably by Francisco Sanches, Pierre Gassendi, and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. The more serious impact of Sextus on modern thought had to await the presentation of his doctrines in Michel Eyquem de Montaigne's writings." (Encyclopedia dot com).

Brunet 368; Graesse 285; Fumagalli, p. 233.

HBS # 68566 $12,500

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