The Ignorant Philosopher. With An Address to the Public Upon the Parricides imputed to the Families of Calas and Sirven. Translated from the French of M. De Voltaire.
Voltaire, [François Marie Arouet de].

Glasgow: Printed for Robert Urie, 1767. First Scottish edition, published by Glasgow scholarly publisher, Robert Urie. The London edition, which was the first edition in English, appeared the same year. Hinges cracked, but sound, binding extremities rubbed. Contemporary ink signature of Rev. Henry W. Duchachet on half-title. Bookplate of the Duchachet Library in Philadelphia on front pastedown, old library pocket on back pastedown. A good, clean copy. Contemporary sheep. Octavo. 188 pp. (Item ID: 14319)


The Philosophe Ignorant 'was written in a mood of exasperation and disgust produced by the impossibility of resolving the great metaphysical problems. In a series of brief sections Voltaire tries to answer the questions with which he begins: 'Who are you? whence do you come? what are you doing? what will you become? Or rather, he more and more irritably points out how unanswerable they are, and how insignificant is man when confronted with them” (Besterman, Voltaire, p. 488). Though less well-known than his Glasgow neighbors, Robert and Andrew Foulis, Urie (bap. 1713-1771) was an important Scottish Enlightenment publisher. His choice of titles was a bit different from that of his neighbors: “If these reflect his own taste he was a man of some culture with an inclination towards philosophy, history, and poetry, and with little of his contemporaries' interest in sermons. He published very few of the Greek and Latin classics in the original languages…perhaps, not wishing to compete with the Foulis press. The 1750s, and even more the 1760s, revealed an interest in the books of the French Enlightenment, particularly translations of the works of Voltaire: Urie published more than twenty of these, many within a year of their first translation into English. Other authors who feature prominently are Vertot, Fenelon, d'Alembert, Formey, and Rousseau” (Oxford DNB).

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