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Les Passions De L'Ame Le Monde, ou Traité De La Lumiere. Et La Geometrie Par René Descartes. Nouvelle Edition, enrichie de Figures en Taille-Douce. Augmentée d'un Discours sur le Mouvement local, & sur la Fiévre, suivant les Principes du même Auteur.

René Descartes

RA Collection: Book

Record number



Variant Title

Monde, Ou Traité de la lumière


A Paris,: Par la Compagnie des Libraires,, M. DCC. XXVI.

Physical Description

[8], 413, [1], 163, [1] p., 3 pl. (fold.): illus.; 164 mm. (Octavo).


[T.p.] - Table Des matieres de la Geometrie - Lettre Premiere A Monsieur Descartes [1648] - Réponse A La Lettre Precedente [1648] - Lettre Seconde A Monsieur Descartes [1645] - Reponse A La Seconde Lettre [1649] - Les Passions De L'Ame - Le Monde De René Descartes, Ou Traité De La Lumiere - Discours Prononcé Dans L'Assemblée De Monsieur De Montmor, Touchant Le Mouvement Et Le Repos - Discours De La Fiévre - Table Des Matieres Contenuës dans ce Volume - [3 fold. pl.] - La Geometrie De M. Descartes - Approbation [1723].

Responsibility Note

No plate or figure is signed.


G. Sebba, Bibliographia Cartesiana ... 1800-1960 (1964); R.W. Lee, 'Ut pictura poesis: the humanistic theory of painting', in Art bull., 22 (1940), p. 197-269; E. Cassirer, Die Philosophie der Aufklärung (1932; Eng. tr. 1951).

Summary Note

Descartes' Les passions de l'âme was first published in 1649. In it Descartes argues that the soul has its seat in a small gland in the middle of the brain, from where it radiates through the body by means of animal spirits, nerves and blood. Passions are aroused in the soul when the spirits produce in the gland a particular motion, and the physical expression of emotion is caused by the effect of animal spirits on the nerves and venous system.

In the 17th century French aestheticians devoted considerable attention to the portrayal of emotion in art. The subject is discussed in Poussin's letters; and Charles Le Brun in his Méthode pour apprendre à dessiner les passions (1698) presents a detailed physiognomic catalogue of the passions, based directly on Descartes' Les passions de l'âme.


Acquired between 1769 and 1802. Recorded in RAA Library, Catalogue, 1802.

Binding Note

18th-century calf; rebacked in 20th century, red morocco spine-label lettered 'Descartes - Les Passions De L'Ame'.


Emotion - Light - Motion - Geometry - Theory
Treatises - 17th century - 18th century
Pictorial works - 18th century