Rudolph Goclenius

Rudolph Göckel or Rudolf Goclenius [the Older] (1 March 1547 - 8 June 1628) was a German scholastic philosopher, credited with inventing the term psychology (1590). In his Lexicon philosophicum (1613) he used the term ontology coined by Jacob Lorhard in his Ogdooas Scholastica (1606). He was born in Corbach, Waldeck (now Korbach,Waldeck-Frankenberg in Hesse), and died in Marburg.

He attended the universities in Erfurt, Marburg and Wittenberg, where he finished his studies with a M.A. in 1571. In the following years he directed the gymnasiums in his hometown Korbach and in Kassel. In 1581, Landgraf Wilhelm IV of Hessen-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel), who was a reputed astronomer, refused his wish to return to Korbach, but allowed him to be appointed professor at the Philipps University of Marburg, where he had the chairs of philosophy, logic, metaphysics and ethics. He served as a counsellor to Wilhelm and his son Moritz. The latter sent him 1618 to the Synod of Dordrecht.

He was highly literate and wrote articles on many subjects, not only philosophy but also mathematics, geography, astrology/astronomy, botanic, zoology, medicine.

Goclenius' crowning achievement is his original contribution made to Term Logic, called the Goclenian Sorites. These take the form of a series of syllogisms chained as follows:

s = t
r = s
q = r
p = q


p = t.

In the words of the British logician Carveth Read:

"It is the shining merit of Goclenius to have restored the Premises of the Sorites to the usual order of Fig. I.: whereby he has raised to himself a monument more durable than brass, and secured indeed the very cheapest immortality. How expensive, compared with this, was the method of the Ephesian incendiary!

His oldest son Rudolf Goclenius, Jr. was professor in Marburg, and a celebrated mathematician.

It is after Rudolph Goclenius, Jr., that the lunar crater is named.

From his dispute with Wilhelm Adolph Scribonius of Marburg on the legality of the ordeal by water in witch trials, one can deduce that Goclenius was convinced on the existence of witchcraft and adhered to the "Hexenhammer".


  • Psychologia: hoc est, De hominis perfectione, animo et in primus ortu hujus, commentationes ac disputationes quorundam theologorum & philosophorum nostra aeatis, Marburg 1590
  • Oratio de natura sagarum in purgatione examinatione per Frigidam aquis innatantium, Marburg 1590.
  • Problematum logicorum, 1590
  • Partitio dialectica, Frankfurt 1595
  • Isagoge in peripateticorum et scholasticorum primam philosopiam, quae dici consuevit metaphysica, 1598 (reprint: Hildesheim, Georg Olms, 1976)
  • Institutionum logicarum de inventione liber unus, Marburg 1598
  • Physicae completae speculum, Frankfurt 1604
  • Dilucidationes canonum philosophicorum, Lich 1604
  • Controversia logicae et philosophiae, ad praxin logicam directae, quibus praemissa sunt theoremata seu praecepta logica, Marburg 1604
  • Conciliator philosophicus, 1609 (reprint: Hildesheim, Georg Olms, 1980)
  • Lexicon philosophicum, quo tantam clave philosophiae fores aperiuntur, 1613 (reprint: Hildesheim, Georg Olms, 1980)
  • Lexicon philosophicum Graecum, Marburg 1615 (reprint: Hildesheim, Georg Olms, 1980)

Further reading

  • Diana Kremer, "Von erkundigung und Prob der Zauberinnen durchs kalte Wasser". Wilhelm Adolph Scribonius aus Marburg und Rudolf Goclenius aus Korbach zur Rechtmäßigkeit der "Wasserprobe" im Rahmen der Hexenverfolgung, in: Geschichtsblätter für Waldeck, Bd. 84, 1996, S. 141 - 168.
  • Rudolf Schmitz, Die Naturwissenschaften an der Philipps-Universität Marburg 1517 - 1927, Marburg 1978, S. 15 f.
  • Friedrich Wilhelm Strieder, Grundlage zu einer hessischen Gelehrten und Schriftsteller Geschichte. Seit der Reformation bis auf gegenwärtige Zeiten, 4. Band, Göttingen 1784, S. 428 ff.


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