Jungius, Joachim

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Jungius, Joachim

(b. Lübeck, Germany, 22 October 1587; d. Hamburg, Germany, 23 September 1657)

natural science, mathematics, logic.

Jungius was the son of Nicolaus Junge, a professor at the Gymnasium St. Katharinen in Lübeck who died in 1589, and Brigitte Holdmann, who later married Martin Nortmann, another professor at St. Katharinen. Jungius attended that Gymnasium, where he commented on the Dialectic of Petrus Ramus, as well as writing on logic and composing poetry, then entered the Faculty of Arts of the University of Rostock in May 1606.

At Rostock Jungius studied with Johann Sleker, from whom he learned metaphysics in the tradition of Francisco Suarez and his school. In general, however, he preferred to concentrate on mathematics and logic. In May 1608 Jungius went to the new University of Giessen to continue his studies. He took the M.A. at Giessen on 22 December 1608, and remained there until 1614 as professor of those disciplines then generally designated as mathematics. His inaugural dissertation was the famous oration on the didactic significance, advantage, and usefulness of mathematics for all disciplines, which he later repeated at Rostock and Hamburg and which revealed the idea that guided his lifework. He arde3ntly pursued mathematical studies. He copied a book by F. Viète, although which one is not known, and in 1612 and 1613, while on a journey to Frankfurt, observed sunspots, the existence of which had been confirmed by Johann Fabricius and Christoph Scheiner.

At this time Jungius was attracted to pedagogy. In 1612 he traveled to Frankfurt with Christoph Helvich of the University of Giessen to attend the coronation of the emperor Matthias; there he met Wolfgang Ratke, who was trying to revive the “Lehrkunst”. Jungius resigned his post at Giessen in 1614 and devoted himself to educational reform in Augsburg and Erfurt, but by the time of his return to Lübeck, on 27 July 1615, he had changed his mind in favor of the natural Sciences. He began to study medicine at the University of Rostock in August 1616 and received the M.D. at Padua on 1 January 1619.

The years between 1619 and 1629 were a peak in Jungius’scientific life. He deepened his knowledge in the natural sciences while practicing medicine at Lübeck (1619-1623) and at Brunswick and Wolfenbüttel (1625) and during his tenure as a professor of medicine at the University of Helmstedt. He improved his abilities in mathematics as a professor of mathematics at Rostock in 1624—1625 and again from 1626 until 1628. He utilized this practical experience in the intensive private research that he conducted at the same time. This is particularly apparent in his “Protonoeticae philosophiae sciagraphia” and in his “Heuretica”. In addition, he founded in about 1623 the Socientas Ereunetica, a short-lived group dedicated to scientific research and perhaps modeled on the Accademia dei Lincei, with which Jungius had become acquainted in Italy. Finally, he was appointed professor of natural science and rector of the Akademisches Gymnasium at Humburg, a post he held until his death.

Two tragic features characterized this last period of Jungius’ life. His wife, Catharina, the daughter of Valentin Havemann of Rostock, whom he had married on 10 February 1624, died on 16 June 1638. During the 1630’s, too, he became subject to the envy of his colleagues and even to attacks by the clergy, despite his devout Protestantism. He was thereafter reluctant to publish his writings and left some 75,000 pages in manuscript at the time of his death, of which two-thirds were destroyed in a fire in 1691, while the remainder have been little studied. Indeed, the primary source of Jungius’ influence on his disciples and contemporaries must be sought in his correspondence and in his composition of some forty disputations.

Jungius tried to apply his mathematical training in two ways. First, he used it to solve problems, as, for example, in proving that the catenary is not, as Galileo had assumed, a parabola. Many of his problems in arithmetic and geometry, including those set out in his Geometria numerosa and Mathesis specialis, have not been found. He was one of the first to use exponents to represent powers. His experiments and views on the laws of motion are also mathematical in nature, as was explicit in the Phoranomica, which in part set out the instruction given by Jungius to Charles Cavendysshe, Jr., of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, when the latter mathematician was staying at Hamburg, from 8 July 1644 to February 1645, as a refugee from Cromwell’s regime. In this complete, but lost, Phoranomica Jungius also wrote on such topics as “De impetu,” “De intensione motus” (on velocity), “De tempore,” and “De tendentia motuum.” A specimen of this work, containing the titles of single chapters, was sent to the Royal Society of London in December 1669. Astronomy was at that time comprised in mathematics, and an account of Jungius’ observations of the variable star Mira (Omicron) Ceti, made in 1647, was also sent to the Royal Society by Heinrich Sivers in a letter of 23 June 1673. While Jungius made other astronomical observations and calculations, they remained unpublished, as did his optical researches.

Second, Jungius used mathematics as a model on which to base a theory of science in general. He outlined this principle in the “Protonoeticae Philosophiae sciagraphia,” of which a copy was sent by Samuel Hartlib to Robert Boyle in 1654. In this paper and in his orations in praise of mathematics and his “;Analysis heuretica,” Jungius worked out a scientific method analogous to the mathematical mode of proof that he called “ecthesis.” These works were composed more than eight years before Descartes’s Discours appeared. In other writings Jungius rejected such Scholastic devices as single syllogisms and consequences and advocated the “clear and distinct” methodological principle of Galen. He further elaborated a theory of mathematical operations (“Zeteica”) that continued in more detail the “general mathematics” of the school of Proclus, Conrad Dasypodius, and Johann Heinrich Alsted. Jungius thought that this methodology was closely connected with the logical doctrine of proof that he presented in 1638 in the fourth book of his Logica Hamburgensis, in which he for the first time also treated such mathematical principles as “problems, “regulas,” and “theorems” abandoned distinctions in favor of exact nominal definitions; recommended a “geometric style” (“stylus protonoeticus”); and defined a systematic science (“scientia totalis”). His method of scientific inference as here set forth was based upon “demonstrations” from principles (including definitions) and upon both complete and incomplete induction.

Jungius’ taste for systematizing led him to morphological studies in botany and to a corpuscular theory of chemistry, among other things. All his arguments were based on observations that he put in writing as “protonoetical papers.” In botany he built his system on what Andrea Cesalpino had defined as plant morphology; some of his work was incorporated by John Ray in Catalogus plantarum circa Cantabrigiam nascentium (1660) and was communicated to the Royal Society of London by John Beale on 6 May 1663.

Jungius’ chemical system was elaborated before 1630 and was published in two Disputationes (1642) and in the Doxoscopiae physicae minores (1662). It was based upon planned experiment and closely related to the medical tradition of the corpuscular hypothesis, as opposed to atomism. Jungius explained the apparent homogeneity of a natural body, the mechanism of chemical reaction, and the conservation of matter and weight through the assumption of invisible particelucidate the precipitation of copper elucidate the prescipitation of copper by iron in solution as an exchange of individual particles at the metal and in the solution, as opposed to the “transubstantiation” suggested by Andreas Libavius, the mere extraction from solution proposed by Nicolas Guibert and Angelo Sala, and “the simple disappearance of iron particles in the solution postulated” by J. B. van Helmont.

Jungius stressed that the parts of a body should be reducible to their original states with the same weights that they had originally had. In keeping with his analytical point of view he defined an element a posteriori, that is as experimentally separable. He found that gold, silver, sulfur, mercury, saltpeter, common salt, soda, and some other substances had existed as discrete elements before separation. He distinguished the bodies arrived at after separation, that is, those “exactly simple bodies,” from the substantial parts, that is, “elements,” in the natural body. He chose to emphasize the former, and stated that each consisted of like particles—although he did not specify how the particles of one such exactly simple body might be told from those of another. He further recognized spontaneous reactions, but referred them to attraction, and so he did not believe that any motion is inherent to the corpuscles. Like Galileo, he tried to objectify the properties of bodies and studied the transitions between their solid, liquid, and vapor phases. He was opposed to the Peripatetic notions of substantial forms and inseparable matter and fought strongly against the ideas of inherent qualities and a single principle of combustion.

Jungius’systems for botany and chemistry—cited here as an example—were products of his methodological program for all sciences, with its emphasis on observation and mathematical demonstration.


I. Original Works. A complete bibliography of Jungius’ printed works is in Hans Kangro, Joachim Jungius’ Experimente und Gedanken zur Begründung der Chemie als Wissenschaft, ein Beitrag zur Geistesgeschichte des 17. Jahrhunderts (Wiesbaden, 1968), pp. 350-394, with photographic reproductions of nearly all title pages.

Important works published during Jungius’ lifetime are Kurtzer Bericht von der Didactica, oder Lehrkunst Wolfgangi Ratichii. . . durch Christophorum Helvicum . . . und Joachimum Jungium (Frankfurt am Main, 1613); Geometrica empirica (Rostock, 1627); Logica Hamburgensis, bks. I-III (Hamburg, 1635), bks. I-VI (Hamburg, 1638); Verantwortung wegen desjenigen was neulich vor und in den Pfingsten wegen des griechischen Neuen Testaments und anderer Schulsachen von öffentlicher Kanzel fürgebracht, in Johannes Geffcken, “Joachim Junguis, über die Originalsprache des Neuen Testaments vom Jahre 1637,” in Zeitschrift des Vereines für hamburgische Geschichte, 5 (n.s. 2 ) (1866), 164-183; Candido lectori salutem (Hamburg, 1639), with the incipit “Pervenit tandem hestierno die . . .,” Jungius’ answer to an attack by Johannes Scharff of Wittenberg; De stilo sacrarum literarum, et praesertim Novi Testamenti Graeci (n.p., 1639); Compendium Logicae Hamburgensis (Hamburg, 1641); a pamphlet (Hamburg, 1642), with the incipit “L. S. P. Philosophiae studium. . .,”Jungius’ invitation to the oration of his disciple Caspar Westermann; some forty Disputationes printed between 1607 and 1652, in which Jungius was “respondens,” afterward “praesidens,” the exact dates of which may be found in Kangro’s bibliography (cited above); Dokt. Joach. Jungius Reisskunst (n.p., n.d.), only fols. A1-D4 plus one page, a free German translation from the Latin Geometria empirica.

Important works published after Jungius’ death are Doxoscopiae physicae minores, Martin Fogel, ed. (Hamburg, 1662); 2nd ed., entitled Praecipuae opiniones physicae, M. Fogel and Johann Vaget, eds. (Hamburg, 1679), also contains Harmonica (n.p., n.d.) and Isagoge phytoscopica (preface dated 1678); Germania Superior, J. Vaget, ed. (Hamburgh, 1685); Mineralia, Christian Buncke and J. Vaget, eds. (Hamburg, 1687); Historia vermium, J. Vaget, ed. (Hamburg, 1691); and Phoranomica, id est De motu locali (n.p., n.d., but perhaps not earlier than 1699, since it first appears in Johann Adolph Tassius, Opuscula mathematica [Hamburg, 1699]). Selections from Jungius’ voluminous correspondence were published—although the collection is not perfect, some letters being presented only in extract or translation—by Robert C. B. Avẹ-Lallement, Des Dr. Joachim Jungius aus Lübeck Briefwechsel mit seinen Schülern und Freunden (Lübeck, 1863); the incipit “Quod iis evenire solet . . .” to Jungius’ oration on the propaedeutic use of mathematics in studying liberal arts, presented 19 March 1629 at his inauguration in Hamburg, was edited by J. Lemcke and A. Meyer [-Abich] in Beiträge zur Jungius-Forschung (Festschrift der Hamburgischen Universität anlässlich ihres zehnjährigen Bestehens), A. Meyer [-Abich], ed. (Hamburg, 1929), pp. 94-120, with German trans. There is also “Protonoeticae philosophiae sciagraphia,” the first four sheets of a copied or dictated MS, edited by H. Kangro in Joachim Jungius’ Experimente . . ., pp. 256-271, with German trans.

A reprint, arranged by Jungius, of Auctarium epitomes physicae . . . Dn. Danielis Sennerti (author unknown; Wittenberg, 1635) appeared at Hamburg in 1635.

The main collection of MSS, including orations and correspondence, is in the Staats-und Universitätsbibliothek Hamburg; these include nearly all the MSS on botany, as well as part of Jungius’ correspondence with John Pell. The rest of the Jungius-Pell letters are in London, BM Sloane 4279 and 4280. Other MSS are “Phoranomica” (“praelecta . . . 1644”), perhaps addressed to Charles Cavendysshe, in the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek Hannover, MS IV, 346; 346; “Definitiones geometricae inservientes Phoranomicae,” written down by Cavendysshe, London BM Harl. 6083, fols. 246-265; and “Isagoge phytoscopica,” copied or dictated before 1660, in MSS of Samuel Hartlib in the possession of Lord Delamere. Also in the Niedesächsische Landesbibliothek Hannover are Jungius’ “Heuretica,” partly copied by Leibniz under the title “Logica did. [actica],” LH Phil. VII C, fols. 139r- 145r; “Texturae contemplatio,” LH XXXVIII, fols. 26-29; “De dianoea composita lectiones,” LH Phil. VII C, fols. 149r-150r, which is fragmentary; and sheets on various topics interspersed in MSS XLII 1923 of Jungins’ disciple Martin Fogel.

II. Secondary Literature. The best biography, although an old one, is Martin Fogel, Memoriate Joachimi Jungii mathematici summi . . . (Hamburg, 1657), 2nd ed., entitled Historia vitae et mortis Joachimi Jungii . . . (Strasbourg, 1658). There are relevant additions by J. Moller in his Cimbria literata (Copenhagen, 1744), III, 342-348.

On Jungius’ Philosophy see G. E. Guhrauer, JoachimJungius und sein Zeitalter (Stuttgart-Tübingen, 1850), original but in need of updating. His corpuscular hypothesis and chemistry are discussed in E. Wohlwill, “Joachim Jungius und die Erneuerung atomistischer Lehren aim 17. Jahrhundert,” in Festschrift zur Feier des fünfzigjährigen Bestehens des Naturwissenschaftlichen Vereins in Hamburg (Hamburg, 1887), paper II, which presents a positivistic point of view; a new view of Wohlwill’s theses is given in R. Hooykaas, “Elementenlehre und Atomistik im 17. Jahrhundert,” in Die Entfaltung der Wissenschaft (Hamburg, n. d. [1958]), pp. 47-65; and H. Kangro, Joachim Jungius’ Experiment und Gedanken zur Begründung der Chemie als Wissenschaft, ein Beitrag zur Geistesgeschichte des 17. Jahrhunderts (Wiesbaden, 1968). An original sketch of Jungius’ botany is W. Mevius, “Der Botaniker Joachim Jungius und das Urteil der Nachwelt,” in Die Entfaltung der Wissenschaft (Hamburg, n. d. [1958]), pp. 67-77. Texts of original MSS concerning Jungius’ conflict with the clergy are Erich von Lehe, “Jungius-Archivalien aus dem Staatsarchiv,” in Beiträge zur Jungius-Forschung, A. Meyer [-Abich], ed. (Hamburg, 1929), pp. 62-87.

On other topics see the following by H. Kangro: “Heuretica (Erfindungskunst) und Begriffskalkülist der Inhalt der Leibnizhandschrift Phil. VII C 139r-145r Joachim Jungius zuzuschreiben?,” in in Sudhoffs Archiv, Vierteljahrsschrift für Geschichte der Medizin und der Naturwissenschaften, der Pharmazie und der Mathematik,52 (1968), 48-66; “Joachim Jungius und Gottfried wilhelm Leibniz, ein Beitrag zum geistigen Verhälenis beider Gelehrten,” in Studia Leibnitiana, 1 (1969), 175-207; “Die Unabhängigkeit eines Beweises; John Pells Beziehungen zu Joachim ungius und Johnn Adolph Tassius (aus unveröffentlichten MSS),” in Janus, 56 (1969), 203-209; “Martin Fogel aus Hamburg als Gelehrter des 17. Jahrhunderts,” in Ural-Altaische Jahrbücher, 41 (1969), 14-32 containing many relations between Fogel and Jungius: and “Organon Joachimi Jungii ad demonstrationem Copernici hypotheseos Keppleri conclusionibus suppositae,” in Organon (in press)

Hans Kangro

Jungius, Joachim

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(b. Lübeck, Germany, 22 October 1587; d. Hamburg, Germany, 23 September 1657)

natural philosophy, mathematics, logic. For the original article on Jungius see DSB, vol. 7.

For several reasons, Jungius’s systematic position in the history of science and knowledge remains difficult to establish: First, his published works were eclectic or subject to teaching requirements and therefore not necessarily representative for his own point of view; second, the vast majority of Jungius’s manuscripts, including the two-thirds destroyed by fire in 1691, were scrap or reading notes and drafts rather than systematic treatises; third, Jungius considered his foremost task the critical examination and confutation of established knowledge aimed at creating the tabula rasa of an intellect undisturbed by preconceived opinions, upon which future generations should build an empirically founded system of knowledge.

Jungius is a typical representative of the early seventeenth-century crisis in natural philosophy. His work aims at overcoming the shortcomings of late Aristotelianism by combining an antimetaphysical attitude with intense empiricism and the idea of knowledge as a system, built more geometrico upon simple entities. Headmaster of a town school during the Thirty Years’ War, Jungius was at the fringe of the academic communications network; he published little and mainly for local audiences. As a consequence, and despite the posthumous publications edited by devoted pupils, Jungius’s highly idiosyncratic approach remained largely unknown at the time. There are exceptions, however: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz took an interest in Jungius’s methodology, John Ray adopted parts of his botanical nomenclature, and Johann Wolfgang Goethe studied Jungius’s plant morphology in connection with his own idea of metamorphosis.

During the nineteenth century the work of Jungius was rediscovered by German historians and was seen as sort of a counterpart to Francis Bacon’s empiricism. In the 1930s this “national” portrayal culminated in seeing in Jungius the representative of a holistic approach to nature allegedly favored by the Germanic race. From the 1950s onward, the Hamburg-based Joachim Jungius Gesellschaft encouraged scholarly research on the philosophical and scientific work of its patron. Matter theory in relation to the intellectual foundation of early modern chemistry was the topic of Hans Kangro’s monumental, if somewhat positivistic, study. In it, Jungius almost appears to be one of the founders of experimental science. More recent research has placed him more in the context of late humanist disputes on the value of metaphysics for the foundation of true knowledge, and within a framework of approaches and notions implicit to late Aristotelian modes of thought. In addition, the practice of teaching, arguing, and disputing within a school context have become clear as delimiting factors for Jungius in pursuing a program of his own.

Basically, Jungius’s approach was critical, empirical, anti-metaphysical, and it aimed at a general reform of knowledge. As a philosopher, he summarized and, at the same time, transcended the Aristotelian logic and its metaphysical heritage. At the core of his Logica Hamburgensis of 1638 was a theory of knowledge meant to ground philosophical truth upon empirical demonstrations or at least upon probability (logica engistica). Consequently, metaphysics was replaced by what Jungius termed protonoëtica, a method to generate the finite number of simple notions (protonoëmata) upon which reasoning was to be founded.

This idea was by no means confined to philosophical reasoning alone, but expressed a much more general principle underlying both reality and knowledge. Nature, in Jungius’s view, consists of hierarchies of increasing complexity, which can be split up into less complex and finally basic entities, out of which higher complexities can be constructed. Using analysis and synthesis as the primary operations (both mentally and practically) and starting from immediate sense perception, Jungius’s method was meant to yield, by means of analysis, those simple, indivisible empirical entities out of which a new and true system of knowledge should in turn be built up by means of subsequent synthesis. In each of these steps, the mental and notional operations were thought to correspond to the respective entities and operations in nature.

This principle of decomposition and composition, modeled according to the mathematical method, was thought to rule everything: chemical transformations, plant morphology, teaching methods and the ways of reasoning. In the material world the required basic entities were supposed to be found in what Jungius called “hypostatical principles,” ultimate parts of matter that could not decomposed further experimentally. This was the core argument of the Praelectiones physicae, Jungius’s chief work in natural philosophy, begun as a course of lectures in 1629 and supplemented by a series of academic disputations on methodological and epistemological issues. However, Jungius never achieved a clear determination of these ultimate entities, nor did he ever give more than a vague idea of what his new system of knowledge would have been like. In fact, he considered his main task to be doxoscopia, that is, the falsification of established, and above all of empirically untenable, knowledge. Jungius’s strict and somewhat naive empiricism, the lack of a proper experimental methodology, and his still largely Aristotelian terminology doomed this approach to failure. Toward the end of his life, he had collected some 150,000 sheets of scrap notes from almost every branch of knowledge, but this mass of information did not restructure itself to form a new system, as Jungius might have expected.

Taken together, Jungius’s work appears as a symptom of rather than as a solution to the early seventeenth-century crisis of knowledge. With René Descartes, whose work Jungius seems to have known only selectively, he shared the conviction that the new system of knowledge had to be built upon simple notions that correspond to simple entities; with Francis Bacon, whom he admired, he shared the empiricist approach, but not the inductive methodology. But unlike these two scholars, Jungius remained much more closely bound to the context of late humanist and late Aristotelian school teaching within the Lutheran tradition.


The bibliographic survey in DSB, vol. 7, pp. 195–196, and the bibliography in Hans Kangro, Joachim Jungius’ Experimente und Gedanken zur Begründung der Chemie als Wissenschaft: Ein Beitrag zur Geistesgeschichte des 17. Jahrhunderts, Wiesbaden: Steiner, 1968, are still indispensable. Subsequent research is listed in Christoph Meinel, “Joachim Jungius,” in Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie: Die Philosophie des 17. Jahrhunderts, vol. 4: Das Heilige Römische Reich Deutscher Nation, Nord- und Ostmitteleuropa, edited by Helmuth Holzhey and Wilhelm Schmidt-Biggemann, Basel: Schwabe, 2001, pp. 920–926, 983–984. The ca. 45,000 folios of Jungius’s preserved papers, including drafts of manuscripts and collections of notes, are catalogued in Christoph Meinel, Der handschriftliche Nachlass von Joachim Jungius in der Staatsund Universitätsbibliothek Hamburg, Stuttgart: Hauswedell, 1984. The following sections contain later published original works by Jungius not mentioned in the DSB and select historical research published since 1984.


Logicae Hamburgensis Additamenta, edited by Wilhelm Risse. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1977.

Praelectiones Physicae, edited by Christoph Meinel. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1982.

Disputationes Hamburgenses, edited by Clemens Müller-Glauser. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1988.

Elsner, Bernd, ed. ‘Apollonius Saxonicus’: Die Restitution eines verlorenen Werkes des Apollonius von Perga durch Joachim Jungius, Woldeck Weland und Johannes Müller. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1988.

Aus dem literarischen Nachlaβ von Joachim Jungius: Edition der Tragödie, Lucretia’ und der Schul- und Universitätsreden, edited by Gaby Hübner. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1995.

Geometria empirica und Reiβ-Kunst, edited by Bern Elsner. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 2004.

Der Briefwechsels des Joachim Jungius, edited by Martin Rothkegel. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 2005.


Meinel, Christoph. In physicis futurum saeculum respicio: Joachim Jungius und die Naturwissenschaftliche Revolution des 17. Jahrhunderts. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1984.

———. “Empirisme et réforme scientifique au seuil de l’époque moderne.” In Archives Internationales d’Histoire des Sciences 37 (1987): 297–315.

——. Die Bibliothek des Joachim Jungius: Ein Beitrag zur Historia litteraria der frühen Neuzeit. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1992.

———. “Enzyklopädie der Welt und Verzettelung des Wissens: Aporien der Empirie bei Joachim Jungius.” In Enzyklopädien der Frühen Neuzeit: Beiträge zu ihrer Erforschung, edited by Franz M. Eybl, Wolfgang Harms, Hans-Henrik Krummacher and Werner Welzig. Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1995.

Christoph Meinel