B. de Spinoza, Renatus Des Cartes Beginzelen der Wysbegeerte, I en II Deel; Overnatuurkundige Gedachten

4to: *4 **2 A–X4 (–O1 (part-title leaf)) Y2 [$3, ** signed as $1]/93 leaves = pp. [6] 1–104 [2] 109–168 [6]
166404 – a1 *2 ezon : a2 ** n$ond / 166404 – b1 A en : b2 N3 nu$ / 166404 – c1 O2 ert$hoofd : c2 X3 odich / 166404 – d1 Y ,$zo : d2 Y2 et$d
No variant known
Jan Rieuwertsz Sr
Trans., Ed.
Pieter Balling
Amsterdam, ‘in ’t Martelaarsboek’, ‘Dirk van Assensteegh’

Jan Rieuwertsz Sr published a Dutch translation of Spinoza’s 1663 presentation of Descartes’s ‘Principles of Philosophy’. From Spinoza’s correspondence with the Dordrecht pontgaerder (grainbroker) and amateur philosopher Willem van Blijenbergh it can be inferred that the Dutch edition was issued sometime before mid-December 1664.

When Spinoza exactly started preparing for a Dutch translation of Renati Des Cartes Principiorum philosophiae pars I et II; Cogitata metaphysica is undocumented. For the new edition, though, he or perhaps Lodewijk Meyer equally revised and improved the text of the Latin quarto edition at several instances. It is virtually certain that the translation into Dutch, Renatus Des Cartes Beginzelen der wysbegeerte, I en II Deel; Overnatuurkundige gedachten, was made by the Amsterdam Mennonite broker Pieter Balling, who is also believed to have also authored a translation of Parts 1 and 2 of the early ‘Ethics’ into Dutch.

More significantly, he was also the author of the Dutch translation of the First and Second Part of the early Ethica made during the early 1660s which was used by the purist Jan Hendriksz Glazemaker for composing the text (Zedekunst) of the Ethica in De nagelate schriften, the Dutch edition of the posthumous works (1677).




  • Dutch text
  • first and only edition, in quarto
  • translation from the Latin by ‘P.B.’ (presumably Pieter Balling)
  • title-page has Spinoza’s name
  • imprint with the name of Jan Rieuwertsz, the address of his bookshop (‘Dirk van Assensteegh’) and sign (‘in ’t Martelaars-Boek’)
  • title-page has ornament (physical illustration)
  • preface by Lodewijk Meyer
  • Latin dedicatory poem ‘Ad Librum’ (sig. **2r) by ‘I.B.M.D.’ ( attributed to Johannes Bouwmeester), with Dutch translation (‘Aan het Boek’)
  • second poem in Dutch (‘Aan den Leezer’) by Hendrik van Bronchorst
  • contains decorated initials and illustrations
  • contains indexes and list of errata

Autograph and/or apograph by [Balling] is no longer extant

Dutch, occasionally Latin and pointed Hebrew (p. 143). Glosses in external margins (both in Roman and italics). Undistinguished movable Roman type from the Amsterdam printing office of Herman Aeltsz highly likely (Jagersma and Dijkstra, 2013).


  • direction line on p. 21: C in signature C3 in some copies mistakenly printed in italics
  • p. 67: during composition the larger upper case subtitle ‘BYVOEGZEL’ was set in type without capital ‘O’; misprint corrected in list of errata
  • p. 127 (few copies): smaller lower case 7 of page number went adrift in forme during printing, gradually shifted southeast and was tilted skew (‘hanging’).


  • 1 ornament (geometrical visual) on title-page, woodcut. Visual draws on *Descartes’s attempt made in Principia philosophiae to refute the theory of atoms (Principia philosophiae, 1644, II)
  • 6 ornamented (acanthus) initials (D, H, D, D, O, D), woodcuts
  • plain (closed) black initials (2 lines high, c.10xc.9 mm), woodcuts
  • geometrical visuals, copper etchings
  • physical illustrations, copper etchings


Van der Linde, 1871, p. 1, no. 1; Catalogue, no. 150 (Wolf), p. 32, no. 357; Catalogus, 1965, p. 35, no. 186; Kingma and Offenberg, pp. 5–6, no. 2.