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Scholz, Heinrich (1884–1956)


Heinrich Scholz, the German theologian and logician, was born in Berlin. He professed an outspoken Platonism based on a profound knowledge of the history of metaphysics and of the logical works of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Bernard Bolzano, and Gottlob Frege. Scholz identified philosophy, in its original Platonic sense as the striving for universal knowledge, with the study of the foundations of mathematics and science. Thus, in Was ist Philosophie? (1940; Mathesis Universalis, pp. 341387) he concluded, from Plato's demand for knowledge of geometry and a mathematical astronomy, that the axiomatic method is required for universal knowledge. He regarded mathematical logic as developed by Leibniz, Bolzano, Frege, Bertrand Russell, and others as the "epochale Gestalt " of metaphysica generalis. He opposed formalism in logic because it failed to provide for the semantics of formal languages, and he opposed constructivism because of its arbitrary anthropocentric limitations of logic.

Scholz's devotion to logic arose from a concern with metaphysics in theology. He studied theology at Berlin and philosophy at Erlangen, receiving a doctorate in philosophy from Erlangen with a dissertation on Friedrich Schleiermacher. He held the chair of systematic theology and philosophy of religion at Breslau from 1917 to 1919, and then a chair of philosophy at Kiel. In his main systematic theological work, Religionsphilosophie (Berlin, 1921), he rejected subjective and existential foundations for religion. God is a transsubjective datum whose being is independent of any "leap of faith"; otherwise truth would be irrelevant to religion: "nothing remains but either to give up the solution to the problem of truth or to enter upon an entirely new course" (Mathesis Universalis, p. 13). By a "lucky accident," the discovery of A. N. Whitehead and Russell's Principia Mathematica in the library at Kiel, Scholz found his new course. From 1923 to 1928 he immersed himself in the study of logic, mathematics, and physics, and of their histories. His thoughts on metaphysics were galvanized, and he developed an enthusiasm for logical calculi rare even among mathematicians; it infused his later lectures and doubtless alienated those readers in Germany who were not quite convinced of the need to analyze Plato and other classical metaphysicians logically.

In 1929, his metamorphosis into a logician complete, Scholz assumed a chair of philosophy at Münster, which was transferred to the mathematical faculty in 1943 when he founded the Institut für mathematische Logik und Grundlagenforschung. This institute was inspired by the Warsaw school under Jan Łukasiewicz (whom Scholz later rescued from a Nazi concentration camp). But Scholz did not renounce theology. In "Das theologische Element im Beruf des logistischen Logikers" (1935; Mathesis Universalis, pp. 324340) he likened his motives for undertaking Grundlagenforschung to the motives of an Augustinian theologian in search of illumination from the eternal forms. He undertook logical investigations of Anselm's ontological argument ("Der Anselmische Gottesbewies," 1950; Mathesis Universalis, pp. 6274) and of Augustine's arithmetical proof ("Der Gottesgedanke in der Mathematik," 1950; Mathesis Universalis, pp. 293312).

Scholz wrote one of the first competent histories of logic, Abriss der Geschichte der Logik (Berlin, 1921; translated by Kurt F. Leidecker as Concise History of Logic, New York, 1961), based on the pioneering studies of Louis Couturat and Łukasiewicz. He exhibited what may be called a coincidence of logic and metaphysics through several works that together constitute in effect the first logically competent history of metaphysics. His "Logik, Grammatik, Metaphysik" (1944; Mathesis Universalis, pp. 399438) discusses metaphysics in Aristotle, Leibniz, and Immanuel Kant. "Die mathematische Logik und die Metaphysik" (Philosophisches Jahrbuch der Görres-Gesellschaft 51 [1938]: 257291), a 1938 lecture intended to convince a meeting of German Thomists of the importance of mathematical logic, discusses scholastic philosophy, Plato, and Aristotle. He discusses the fundamental importance of the axiomatic method for metaphysics in "Die Axiomatik der Alten" (1930; Mathesis Universalis, pp. 2744), on Aristotle's Posterior Analytics ; in Was ist Philosophie? ; and in Die Wissenschaftslehre Bolzanos (1937; Mathesis Universalis, pp. 219267). Scholz regarded the mathesis universalis of René Descartes, Blaise Pascal, and Leibniz as of special importance in the history of metaphysics. He developed Leibniz's metaphysical doctrines of identity and possibility in Metaphysik als strenge Wissenschaft (Cologne, 1941), a thorough treatment of the logic of identity, and in Grundzüge der mathematischen Logik, written in collaboration with Gisbert Hasenjaeger (Göttingen, 1961). In Grundzüge, logical truth is defined as that which is identical throughout all possible worlds. Scholz used this definition to explain the a priori (the pre-Kantian Transzendentale ): Possible (not necessarily actual) worlds constitute the logical frame for any description of the real world. Scholz's "Einführung in die Kantische Philosophie," a series of lectures given in 1943 and 1944 (Mathesis Universalis, pp. 152218), was the first systematic treatment of Kant's logical, mathematical, and physical doctrines to call upon both mathematical logic and physics. Of particular interest is Scholz's account of how Kant came to reject the mathesis universalis because of Christian Wolff's garbled presentation of Leibniz's mathematical philosophy.

Scholz greatly admired the work of the Vienna circle, particularly that of Rudolf Carnap. However, he held that Platonism, especially in the form of classical mathematics, has been more useful to science than positivism, since it permits theoretical constructions more powerful than any offered by positivism. Positivism retards scientific growth. Thus, according to Scholz, modern relativity theory, even though positivistic tendencies helped lay its observational foundation, is Platonist because of its use of classical analysis. According to Scholz, the logic of Frege and Russell was adequate evidence that Platonism is feasible, and Alfred Tarski's noneffective method of proof and his semantic definition of truth proved that Platonism can be given an absolutely rigorous foundation.

Scholz held that competence in metaphysics requires knowledge of mathematical logic, but he failed to convince most German metaphysicians. His works were ignored, and irrationalism exercised virtual hegemony in Germany during the Nazi era. (Even in the United States, his work was mentioned only in the Journal of Symbolic Logic.) Scholz saw language being employed as a poorly controlled, quasi-literary means of expression rather than as a logical tool for grasping objective truth. He therefore engrossed himself in his technical work, the crowning achievement of which was the posthumously published Grundzüge der mathematischen Logik. This work deals extensively with the elements of logic; develops propositional logic, quantificational logic, and type-theoretical logic (this last is called "Russell-revised Platonism" because it functions as an ontological foundation for mathematics) in formalized syntactic and semantic metalanguages; and examines the questions of completeness and independence with respect to both effective and noneffective proof methods.

See also Anselm, St.; Aristotle; Augustine, St.; Bolzano, Bernard; Carnap, Rudolf; Couturat, Louis; Descartes, René; Frege, Gottlob; Kant, Immanuel; Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm; Łukasiewicz, Jan; Mathematics, Foundations of; Metaphysics, History of; Ontological Argument for the Existence of God; Pascal, Blaise; Plato; Platonism and the Platonic Tradition; Russell, Bertrand Arthur William; Schleiermacher, Friedrich Daniel Ernst; Tarski, Alfred; Thomism; Whitehead, Alfred North; Wolff, Christian.


See Mathesis Universalis, edited by H. Hermes, F. Kambartel, and J. Ritter (Basel: B. Schwabe, 1961), a selective anthology with a comprehensive bibliography; Glaube und Unglaube in der Weltgeschichte (Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs'sche Buchhandlung, 1911); Die Religionsphilosophie des Als-ob (Leipzig, 1921).

An article on Scholz, accompanied by a photograph, is Hans Hermes, "Heinrich Scholz zum 70. Geburtstage," in Mathematisch-Physikalische Semesterberichte n.f. 5 (1955): 165170.

Eckehart Köhler (1967)

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