Natural and Moral History of the Indies. Selection

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Illustrated paperback ISBN: 9788499535609
Hardcover ISBN: 9788411266444

Natural and Moral History of the Indies (Historia natural y moral de las Indias), published in Seville in 1590, is a treatise devoted to the natural and moral history of the New World. That is, to the customs and deeds of the Indians.
For his Natural and Moral History of the Indies José de Acosta used observations that he gathered for more than two decades. Our author also drew on materials from other authors.
In the preface dedicated to the reader, Acosta tells us about the purpose of his work and his scientific ideology:

“The ancients were so far from thinking that there were people in this new world, that many of them would not believe that there was land on this part; And what is more wonderful, there was no lack of those who also denied having this sky that we see here. For though it is true that the most and the best of philosophers felt, that the sky was all round, as indeed it is, and thus surrounded the earth on all sides, and enclosed it in itself; With all this, some, and not a few, nor of those of less authority among the sacred doctors, had different opinions, imagining the factory of this world in the manner of a house, in which the roof that covers it, only surrounds it from above, and does not fence it on all sides; giving for reason of this, that otherwise the earth would be in the middle hanging from the air, which seems alien to all reason. And also that in all the buildings we see that the foundation is on one side, and the roof on the other; and so, according to good regard, in this great building of the world, all heaven shall be on one side above, and all the earth on a different part below.”

The exceptional quality of this text explains the wide dissemination it has enjoyed. This is evident in the numerous reissues and translations.
Natural and Moral History of the Indies was also a controversial work. Currently, the meticulous work of many researchers has validated the authenticity and rigor of José de Acosta’s book.
This edition of the Natural and Moral History of the Indies is a selection made by Professor José Alcina Franch.

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