SCOTTISH C16 PHILOSOPHY
MANDERSTON, William. Bipartitum in morali philosophia opusculum.
Paris, [Guillaume Le Bret], 1526. [with]
ALMAIN, Jacques. Moralia […] & libellus De auctoritate Ecclesie.
Paris, [Jehan Petit], 1526.
8vo. 2 works in 1, ff. (iv) clxxxiii; (iv) clix, lacking final blank. Roman letter; Gothic letter. Large woodcut printer’s devices to t-ps, first with 2 folding plates showing philosophical diagrams as genealogical trees, decorated initials. Outer edge of first and last gatherings a bit frayed, I: t-p a little dusty, faint water stain to lower outer blank corner of Y-Z 8 , couple of tiny tears along plate folds, II: lower outer blank corner of Ii 2 torn, a few lower or outer edges untrimmed. Good, clean copies in contemporary French calf, spine repaired at head and foot, double blind ruled to a panel design, outer border with blind roll of tendrils, centre panel with grille de St Laurent rolls of tendrils surrounded by border with rosettes in blind, raised bands, couple of scratches to boards, small repair to corners. I: C16 inscriptions ‘Su[m] (?)llet hunc librum’ (partly erased) and ‘Joannes Chytrius Bonauallensis’ to t-p, occasional contemporary annotations, four to second plate, II: contemporary inscription, smudged, to t-p, slightly later inscriptions and ‘Joannes Chytrius Bonauallensis’ (contemporary) to verso of last.
Good copies of these scarce Parisian editions of important works of moral philosophy, produced in small format for the use of university students. This copy belonged to Joannes Chytrius (Kochhafe?), monk at the abbey of Bonneval, near Chartres. Both authors were educated in the Parisian circle of the Scottish nominalist philosopher John Mair (1467-1550). A major figure in Scottish philosophy, William Manderston (c.1485-1552) was a student at Glasgow and Paris. This edition of ‘Bipartitum’, originally published in 1518, was printed the year after he was appointed rector at Paris. A compendium on moral philosophy based on classical and medieval authorities, it focuses on the role of virtue in general and the cardinal virtues in particular. The folding diagrams summarise the structure of the work, heavily influenced by Aristotelianism tempered by Christian doctrines. The first represents the tree of disciplines rooted in positive moral philosophy on one side (‘leges’ and ‘iura’) and non-positive philosophy on the other (‘ethica’, ‘economica’, ‘politica’, ‘poetica’ and ‘rhetorica’). The second shows the ramifications of the Aristotelian soul into its vegetative, sensitive and rational qualities, the third kind including virtues. The work discusses a variety of topics including the passions of the soul, innocence and the state of fallen nature, natural appetites, causality, the moral basis of human actions, and whether God can be wrong. The second work, ‘Moralia’, became a standard textbook of moral theology. Jacques Almain (d.1515) was a prominent theologian and rector at Paris 1507-8. Imbued with Aristotelianism, ‘Moralia’ was first published by Estienne in 1510, and revised posthumously by John Mair in 1516, after the premature death of his star student. It focuses on the acquisition of human virtues, assigning theological virtues solely to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, touching on issues like human will, whether ignorance is sin, faith, moral actions and corruption. Despite its popularity, it was criticised by Juan Luis Vives who said that ‘reading a single page of Seneca or Plutarch would instil a stronger desire to be virtuous than would digesting the whole of Almain’s “Moralia”’ (‘Encyclopaedia’, 580).
I: No copies recorded in the US or UK. Not BM STC Fr. or Pettigree & Walsby, French Books.
II: Only Bowdoin and Chicago copies recorded in the US.
BM STC Fr., p.11; Pettigree & Walsby, French Books, 52721. A. Broadie, History of Scottish Philosophy (Edinburgh, 2009); Encyclopaedia of Medieval Philosophy, ed. H. Lagerlund (London, 2011).