Neander, Michael

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(b. Joachimsthal, Bohemia, 3 April 1529; d. Jena, Germany, 23 October 1581)

mathematics, medicine.

The assessment of Neander and his work is complicated by confusion with another Michael Neander (1525–1595), who came from Sorau and was a school principal in Ilfeld. The achievements of each have been credited to the other, and to date no library has correctly cataloged their respective writings. Neander from Joachimsthal, like his namesake, studied at the Protestant university in Wittenberg, where he earned his baccalaureate degree in 1549 and his master’s degree in 1550; he was eighth among fifty candidates. Beginning in 1551, he taught mathematics and Greek at the Hohe Schule in Jena. In 1558, when this school became a new Protestant university, Neander obtained the doctor of medicine degree with a work on baths, De thermis. In 1560 he advanced from professor at the faculty of arts to the more lucrative position of professor of medicine at Jena, which post he held until his death.

Neander’s scholarly reputation was based on textbooks written primarily for students at the faculty of arts. He considered the writings of the ancients, especially Galen, absolutely authoritative. In the introduction to his Methodorum in omni genere artium… (1556), he based his exposition on Galen’s opinion that the best kind of demonstration is mathematical. Neander distinguished the analytic and synthetic methods and introduced proof by contradiction as a third independent possibility.

In opposition to his contemporary Petrus Ramus, Neander contended that, even from a pedagogical point of view, Euclid’s Elements contained the essence of a satisfactory synthetic demonstration. Neander’s account of the metrology of the Greeks and Romans seems to have served for a time as a sort of reference work. His Elementa sphaericae doctrinae (1561), which includes an appendix on calendrical computation, endorsed Melanchthon’s rejection of the Copernican view of the universe. The Elementa influenced one of Neander’s colleagues at Jena, Victorinus Strigelius, whose Epitome doctrinae de primo motu (1564) also placed the earth at rest in the center of the universe.

Although Neander typified the close connection between mathematics and medicine frequently seen in the sixteenth century, this link appears only indirectly in his writings.


I. Original Works. Neander’s major works are Σύνοις mensurarum et ponderum, ponderationisque mensurahilium secundum Romanos, Athenienses… Accesserunt etiam quae apud Galenum hactenus extabant de ponderum et mensurarum ratione (Basel, 1555); Methodorum in omni genere artium brevis et succincta νϕῆγῆσιτ(Basel, 1556); Gnomologia graecolatina, hoc est… Sentential … ex magna atuhologio Joannis Stobaei excerptae… Acccssit practerea “Oveipos vel” Aλєĸτανων id est somnium vel Gallus, dialogus Luciani… graece et latinc … (Basel, 1557); and Elementa sphaericae doctrinae seu de primo motu: in usum studiosae iuventutis methodice et perspicue conscripta. Accessit praecipua cotnputi astronomici materia, ubi temporis pleraeque differentiae explicantur (Basel, 1561).

Biographisches Lexikon hervorragender Ärzte, IV (BerlinVienna, 1932), 331–332, lists a work entitled De thermis (Jena, 1558), but the author has been unable to verify this title in any library.

II. Secondary Literature. Works on Neander and his work (in chronological order) are Heinrich Pantaleon, Prosopographiae heroum atque illustrium virorum totius Germaniae (Basel, 1566), 553; also in Teutscher Nation Heldenbuch… (Basel, 1578), 515; Paul Freher, Theatrum virornm eruditione clarorum (Nuremberg, 1688), 1279; Johann Caspar Zeumer, Vitae professorum theologiae omnium Jenensium (Jena, 1711), 14; Hamhurgische vermischte Bibliotheky pt. I (Hamburg, 1743), 695–701; Christian Gottlieb Jöcher, ed., Allgemeines GelehrtenLexicon, III (Leipzig, 1751), 840; Johannes Günther, Lebensskizzen der Professoren der Universität Jena von 1558 bis 1858 (Jena, 1858); Allgemeine deutsche Biographie, XXIII (Leipzig, 1886), 340; and Otto Knopf, Die Astronomie an der Universität Jena von der Gründung der Universität im Jahre 1558 bis zur Entpflichtung des Verfassers im Jahre 1927 (Jena, 1937), 1–6.

Ivo Schneider