Books  Natural History  History of Science 


By: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

204 pages, 15 halftones

University of Chicago Press

Hardback | Apr 2008 | #173479 | ISBN-13: 9780226112961
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NHBS Price: £36.50 $48/€41 approx

About this book

Language: Bilingual in English and Latin

Protogaea, an ambitious account of terrestrial history, was central to the development of the earth sciences in the eighteenth century and provides key philosophical insights into the unity of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz's thought and writings.

In the book, Leibniz offers observations about the formation of the earth, the actions of fire and water, the genesis of rocks and minerals, the origins of salts and springs, the formation of fossils, and their identification as the remains of living organisms. Protogaea also includes a series of engraved plates depicting the remains of animals-in particular the famous reconstruction of a "fossil unicorn"-together with a cross section of the cave in which some fossil objects were discovered.

Though the works of Leibniz have been widely translated, Protogaea has languished in its original Latin for centuries. Now Claudine Cohen and Andre Wakefield offer the first English translation of this central text in natural philosophy and natural history. Written between 1691 and 1693, and first published after Leibniz's death in 1749, Protogaea reemerges in this bilingual edition with an introduction that carefully situates the work within its historical context.

Historically, this is a very influential book that has finally been brought out of obscurity for readers of English. Essential. - Choice "Protogaea gives us a much fuller picture of science and culture in the territories of the Holy Roman Empire at a crucial time in its history. Cohen and Wakefield are to be commended for their hard work in making it possible for the Protogaea to reach the audience it deserves." - H-Net Review"


I. Preamble
II. The first formation of the earth through fire
III. Different opinions concerning the creation of the globe
IV. Sea salt, fires, and cycles of precipitation
V. The many changes in our globe after its initial creation
VI. What was the source of the water that covered the earth? And where did it go?
VII. Bructerus and the origin of springs
VIII. Deposits of metal in the earth and a description of veins
IX. The generation of minerals explained through chemistry
X. Products common to laboratories and mines
XI. The generation of precious stones, natural and artificial
XII. Natural sublimations and the preparation of sal ammoniac
XIII. It is through fire that metals appear in their proper forms
XIV. Some bodies owe their form to the movement of waters
XV. Some bodies coalesce in the waters
XVI. Kinds of tuff stone formed by dripping water
XVII. Some things arise from the combined action of heat and water
XVIII. Where do the shapes of various fish imprinted on slates come from?
XIX. Earthquakes, volcanoes, and other things show that there is fire inside our globe
XX. The forms of fish imprinted on slate come from real fish, and are not games of nature
XXI. The different layers of the earth, their locations, and the origin of salts and salt waters
XXII. The origin of mountains and hills explained through waters, winds, and earthquakes
XXIII. Marine shells are found throughout our region and elsewhere
XXIV. The various kinds of shells were not created inside the stone, as is evident from their forms and positions
XXV. The shells and bones of excavated marine animals can be identified as the parts of real animals
XXVI. In ancient times, nearby seas contained animals and shellfish that are no longer found there
XXVII. Glossopetrae, asterias, trochites, etc., are the remains of marine animals, and not games of nature
XXVIII. But it is wrong to include the polygonal shapes that can be found in crystals among these
XXIX. In which a certain lazy ingenuity, which invents things alien to truth, is rejected
XXX. Where can the L#neburg glossopetrae be found?
XXXI. Glossopetrae are sharks' teeth
XXXII. The medical use of glossopetrae
XXXIII. Belemnites, osteocolla, shell-filled stones, and fossil ivory
XXXIV. Bones, jaws, skulls, and teeth found in our region
XXXV. The unicorn's horn, and an enormous animal unearthed in Quedlinburg
XXXVI. Sharzfeld Cave and the bones that have been found in it
XXXVII. The Baumann Cave and its contents
XXXVIII. On the nature of amber, especially the kind found in our region
XXXIX. Changes wrought by rivers and the vestiges of upheavals in our region
XL. The struggle between sea and land
XLI. Sea and marsh once covered Venice and Este
XLII. The marvelous fountains of Modena
XLIII. How Modena's fountains are produced
XLIV. The layers of earth in Rosdorf, near G#ttingen
XLV. On buried trees and petrified wood
XLVI. Peat and its origin
XLVII. On trees buried underground
XLVIII. The various layers of earth observed in Amsterdam

Appendix: Text from Friedrich Lachmund's Oryktographia (1669)

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Claudine Cohen is professor of the history of science at the Ecole des hautes etudes en sciences sociales, Paris, and the author of The Fate of the Mammoth: Fossils, Myth, and History, also published by the University of Chicago Press. Andre Wakefield is associate professor of history at Pitzer College in Claremont, California, and the author of The Disordered Police State: German Cameralism as Science and Practice, also recently published by the University of Chicago Press.

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