A rarity of technical philosophy

Musil, Robert. Beitrag zur Beurteilung der Lehren Machs. Inaugural-Dissertation zur Erlangung der Doktorwürde, genehmigt von der philosophischen Fakultät der Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität zu Berlin.

Berlin-Wilmersdorf, Carl Arnold, 1908.

8vo (147 x 218 mm). 124 pp., 1 blank leaf. Original green printed wrappers, bound within modern black half morocco with marbled boards.


Extremely rare first edition of Robert Musil's dissertation about the Austrian physicist and philosopher Ernst Mach (1838-1916) with which he completed his postgraduate education in philosophy, psychology, physics and mathematics at the University of Berlin (1903-1908). Printed in a tiny press run, the thesis was awarded the grade "laudabile". Previously, Musil had studied engineering in Brno from 1898 to 1901 and published his first novel "The Confusions of Young Törless" (1906).

Musil's philosophical leanings led him to investigate the scientific theory of knowledge. Increasingly, Musil began to view mathematics are the relevant mode of thinking, a notion which culminated in his 1913 essay "The Mathematical Man". "For Musil, mathematical thought is identical with mental organisation, the guideline of all mental values. It is the science that aims at 'truth'. Mathematics is a training of the mind, a way to lend facts order and synthesis [...] Musil's approval of the natural sciences is evidenced by his dissertation about Ernst Mach. The method applied to critique Mach is that of methodical, systematic, 'ratioid' thought" (cf. Marie-Louise Roth, Robert Musil: Ethik und Ästhetik [Munich, 1972], p. 45). As recently as 2014, The Monist, one of the most important philosophy journals, published a special issue (Volume 97, Issue 1) on "The Philosophy of Robert Musil", edited by Bence Nanay.


Ink ownership of "Dr. Fourgeau" (?) to title-page. Acquired from a Berlin private collection.


Original wrappers somewhat discoloured and worn, repaired and rebacked during rebinding, edges remargined in places, otherwise very clean. Wants the final leaf with the curriculum vitae.


Roth 4. WG² 2.

Cat. no.: 35 Catalogue: 38th Antiquaria Ludwigsburg