A short history of the publication of Geulincx’ works by J.P.N. Land
First, Bontekoe, under the name of Philaretus, carried through the printing of the complete Ethica and brought out a new edition of the Methodus, to which were added the author’s answers to some objections made against the former work. It was in the year of these editions, 1675, that Bontekoe had to leave the town; and he found no opportunity of continuing the undertaking.
The Ethica appeared in 1683 for the second time; the publishers now being a different Leyden firm.
Five years later in 1688, this firm in combination with another (also of Leyden) published the Physica as an appendix to Bontekoe’s intermitted Metaphysica.
There appeared at the same time an older form of this compendium, acquired through the agency of one Caspar Langenhert of Franeker.
After these, there are contributions by three more publishers:
1. The famous Amsterdam house of Jansson-Waesberge republished the Ethica again three more times (1691, 1696, and 1709) ; part was taken in the publication of 1696 by the preachers, Flenderus and Hazeu. The same house also published the Collegium Oratorium from Bontekoe’s copy, which was in the possession of an old fellow-pupil.
For all of these we probably have to thank Antonius de Reus (inscribed at Leyden, 24 April, 1668, as a student of law and as twenty-three years old.) They embrace the Annotata praecurrentia and majora Descartes’ Principia; a collection of theses defended under Geulincx’ presidency in 1600-1; and Dutch translations the Metaphysica, Physica, and Ethica from the printed originals (1606 and 1607). After the Wittenberg Ethica epitoma -which, by the way, M. Vander Haeghen (p. 200) cites a, neuter plural-a Dutch abstract appeared at Groningen 1722. This, however, was one of those theological refutations that at length deprived the Ethica of its hitherto uncontested fame as a book for edification. It was now obscured by the rise of Ruard Andala and of the Halle professor Christian Thomasius. The name of the Flemish thinker thus became for a time half-forgotten. The later inquiries into the fortunes of Cartesianism have been needed to bring it or more into the light of day. ‘From writings that have hitherto been imperfectly obtainable, these inquiries have provisionally established the importance of Geulincx among the protagonists of modern science; but the whole material judgment has never yet been put under the eye of the investigator in a convenient view. Before we can finally decide upon Geulincx’ place, we need a full collection of widely scattered works.
Everything necessary for such a collection has at length; after long endeavours of my own, been put at my command by the exact references of M. Vander Haeghen; and, having collected the works, I have undertaken to prepare the complete edition of them. Besides the printed works, I have at my disposition a clean MS., found a few years ago, now in our University-library. Here an unnamed admirer has preserved for posterity the whole series of the prælections delivered at Leyden, and for the most part in a purer text than the earlier editors possessed. The MS. comprises the marks on Descartes ; the Collegium Oratorium , the Metaphysica, Physica vera and complete Ethica,. a Physica ad entem Peripateticorum,. remarks on the printed Logic ; a Collegium Medicum ; a tractate De Officiis Dispantnatium ; paradigms for disputations ; also collected schemata and phrases from Cicero. There would be no purpose now in including these collectanea, any more than the medical compendium and the Annotata præcurrentia, which offer nothing original. The rest will fill three volumes. These will appear in similar external form to the edition of Spinoza prepared by me in collaboration with Van Vloten. The expenses will be defrayed from the balance remaining over from that undertaking. Considering the historical and spiritual relationship between the two thinkers, the managing committee of the Spinoza Memorial thought that it would best consult the intentions of the contributors by making use of the remainder to facilitate the comparison of Spinoza’s thoughts with those his neighbour and nearest precursor. The name of the publisher, Martinus Nyhoff at the Hague, is a guarantee for e technical execution.
The first volume will embrace chiefly what Geulincx mself made public, in chronological order. After a biogaphical sketch there will follow: (1) the Discourse of 1653 Ld the Quæstiones-both in the latest revision (1665) with specification of the older readings; (2) the Discourse of 1662 and the Logic together with the elucidations preserved the lecture-volumes ; (3) the Methodus and the tractate, related to this in subject-matter, upon the duties of disputants, from the same source ; (4) the inaugural address of 1655.
The second volume will contain the systematic works. These, it is true, only appeared in the form of lectures, but it highly probable that they were intended to be given to the press after a final revision. Under this head come (1) the Physica vera; (2) the hitherto unknown Physica admentum Peripateticorum ; (3) the Metaphysica ; (4) the Ethica. The first ethical treatise was published by the author in 1665, but without the notes.
There remain, for the third volume, writings which were doubtless only meant to serve the momentary aim of the teacher, but which have value for us because they give the philosopher’s view upon points to which he found no opportunity of addressing himself before a larger circle. They are (I) the Annotata majora to Descartes, and (2) the the theses which were only printed as occasional writings for use in auditorium. Of the first edition of these, so far as I know only one copy has been preserved in Berlin. The Collegium Oratorium will be printed as an appendix.
Care will everywhere be taken, by solicitous comparison of the existing texts, that the reader shall have complete command of all the sources still available. Only man slips of the pen and errors of the press will be corrected. Plainly inappropriate punctuation will be replaced by a more intelligible one. Generally, the procedure will be such the duty of an editor of papers left by an author would require. May the whole work contribute to bring a unimportant chapter in the history of philosophy nearer perfection, and to atone for what his time, in its ignorance, failed to render to a candid seeker after the highest truth.
J.P.N.Land, LEYDEN, May, 1890.