Publisher Information: Oxford: Richard Davis, 1672.
Foundation Work of Neurology
Willis, Thomas (1621-75). De anima brutorum quae hominis vitalis ac sensitiva est, exercitationes duae. 4to. [58, including imprimatur leaf, errata leaf and longitudinal title label], 16, 33-565 [i.e., 563], [11, index]pp. Lacking the 5-page catalogue of books of Richard Davis at the end, as often. 8 engraved plates. Oxford: E Theatro Sheldoniano; impensis Ric. Davis, 1672. 203 x 153 mm. Calf ca. 1672, rebacked and corners repaired, front free endpaper renewed. Fine, crisp copy.
First Edition, Oxford Issue of one of the foundation works of neurology. Willis's anatomical and clinical study On the soul of brutes is based upon the matured version of his theory of the soul, a refutation of Cartesian theory. Unlike Descartes, Willis believed that man has two souls, an immortal and uniquely human rational soul, and a mortal animal soul shared by all members of the animal kingdom. In his discussion of the sensitive soul Willis recapitulated the neurological concepts he had introduced in Cerebri anatome, particularly localization, and extended them to invertebrates with some of the first detailed dissections made of the oyster, earthworm and lobster. He attributed a wide range of diseases to neurological disturbances, among them headache, lethargy, melancholy, apoplexy, frenzy and paralysis, but recognized the difference between the symptoms of organic brain disease from those of mental illness, which he attributed to disordered animal spirits. He gave what is probably the first account of general paralysis of the insane (Part II, ch. 9), as well as the first description of schizophrenia (Part I, ch. 8), and described the auditory phenomenon now known as "paracusis of Willis" in his chapter on hearing (Part I, ch. 14). "Willis's ideas of cerebral localization were the impetus for a line of experimental work traceable into the early nineteenth century. His notion of the corporeal soul in the nervous system, and the disorders to which it was prone, was both a contribution to comparative psychology and the beginnings of modern concepts of neurology. His speculations on the involuntary functions of the 'intercostal' and 'vagal' nerves provided the foundation of our knowledge of the autonomic nervous system" (Dictionary of Scientific Biography).
Wing lists two quarto and two octavo "editions," each with a different imprint. The two quarto "editions" are actually issues, as they consist of identical sheets bound with different title-leaves (Oxford and London imprints). The quarto issues have traditionally been considered prior to the octavo versions. Clarke & O'Malley, pp. 472-474. Garrison-Morton 1544; 4793; 4966. Hall, Physiology I, pp. 321-325. Hunter & Macalpine, pp. 187-192. Norman 2244. Wing W-2825.Book Id: 41461