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Physica Speculatio, by Alfonso de la Veracruz

Authors: Alfonso de la Veracruz

Alonso Gutiérres, better known as Alfonso de la Veracruz, was born in Guadalajara (Spain). He was in charge of the first chair of philosophy in the Real y Pontificia Universidad de México in the Viceroyalty of Nueva España. After studying Grammar and rhetoric in the Universidad Complutense, he went to the University of Salamanca, where he studied with Francisco de Vitoria. Being invited by the Order of the Agustinos, he arrives to America and stays in Nueva España (Mexico) where he receives the orders in 1537.

Physica Speculatio is the first book on physics written and printed in America. This work, that gathers the ideas in force in the sixteenth century about physics, biology, meteorology, botany and psychology, is a commentary on the Aristotelian texts that talk about natural philosophy. It was written to facilitate the study of the students of his university.

The first part of the volume is a commentary on Aristotle’s Fisica: following the model of the Stagirite, this section was divided into eight books. In the second part of De la Veracruz, the author comments the work Los Meteorológicos; and, in the third part, he comments Acerca del Cielo. In this last part, Gutiérrez abandons the numerical correspondence of the books and summarizes the four parts in one.

In folio 522v, of the Inventario de bienes del Inca Garcilaso appears with number 16 a Física especulacio that can be the same volume we were talking about, or the Novohispanic edition of 1557 of the Salamanca edition of 1559. Certainly, the first scientific book printed in the New World could rise the interest of the Peruvian humanist.