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Gomperz Collection

Contact Information
Claude Zachary
(213) 740 2587

Special Collections, DML 206


The Gomperz Library of Philosophy, formed in Vienna by the philosopher-scholars Theodor and Heinrich Gomperz during the latter part of the 19th century and first part of the 20th, was widely regarded as the finest of its kind in private hands. Shortly before World War II, with the support of the Mudd Foundation, the University purchased a major part of the collection, including some 3,500 volumes of original and early editions of European philosophy from about 1700 to 1850.

Here may be found not only the earliest collected editions of the leading philosophers of the Enlightenment and Romanticism, and the encyclopoedias from Moreri through Bayle and Chauffepié to the Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des arts et des métieres, but also such individual works as Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments, 1759, and Wealth of Nations, 1776; Condillac’s Traité des sensations (1754); Helvétius’ De l’esprit (1758); and Hume’s Treatise of Human Nature (1739-1740) -- the latter with marginal corrections in the hand of the author. Here too are all but one (The Inaugural Dissertation, 1770) of the books of Immanuel Kant in first edition, including his three great Critiques and Allgemeine Naturgeschichte und Theorie des Himmels (1754); as well as all, or virtually all, of the works of the prolific Fichte, Schelling, Wolf and Schopenhauer in their original forms. A group of books by the early mechanist Julien Offray de la Mettrie, most of them rare and some extremely rare, provides introduction to the troubled world of modern materialism.

The Gomperz Collection is housed in Special Collections.