Schegk, Jakob

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(in Latin, Jacobus Schegkius orScheggius; also sometimes called Jakob Degen ) (b. Schorndorf, Germany, 7 June 1511; d. Tübingen, Germany, 9 May 1587) medicine, natural philosophy, methodology of science.

Schegk was the son of a well-to-do burgher, Bernhard Degen; it is not known why he changed his name to Schegk. As a boy he was taught Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and rhetoric by Johann Thomas, a student of Johann Reuchlin’s, before entering the University of Tübingen in 1527 to study philosophy. A year later he received the baccalaureate and, in 1530, a master’s degree. He also studied theology and medicine, taking a doctorate in the latter in 1539, and taught philosophy, logic, and medicine at Tübingen for forty’five years before retiring in 1577. During five decades Schegk published more than thirty works, including many very long ones, on philosophy, theology, and medicine. He was generally Aristotelian in orientation and wrote numerous commentaries and treatises on Aristotle’s works, in addition to becoming involved in polemics with Theodore Beza, Petrus Ramus, and Simone Simoni. Besides many compendia of natural philosophy, he wrote De demonstratione libri XV (1564), in which he attempted to reassert the validity of Aristotle’s scientific methodology, and in De plastica seminis facultate libri tres (1580) he argued in behalf of the Peripatetic doctrine of the formative power of the semen.

One of the most prominent sixteenth-century spokesmen for German Scholosticism, Schegk approached natural philosophy through a strong emphasis on a return to a study of the Greek text of Aristotle. Thus he followed in large measure the humanistic tradition of Renaissance Aristotelianism.


I. Original Works. Schegk’s writings include De demonstratione libri XV (Basel, 1564); and De plastica seminis facultate libri tres (Strasbourg, 1580). The most complete list of his works is in the article by Sigwart (below). See also C. Sigwart, “Ein Collegium logicum im XVI. Jahrundert, “Tübinger Universitätsschriften for 1889–1890 (1890).

II. Secondary Literature. The basic source for information on Schegk’s life is Georg Liebler, Oratio de vita... Jacobi Schegki... (Tübingen, 1587), See also N. W. Gilbert, Renaissance Concepts of Method (New York, 1960), 158–162; W. Pagel, “William Harvey Revisited, Part II”, in History of Science, 9 (1970), 1–41, esp. 26–30; P. Petersen, Geschichte der Aristotelischen Philosophie im protestantischen Deutschland (Leipzig, 1921; repr. Stuttgart–Bad Canstatt, 1964); C. Sigwart, “Jakob Schegk, Professor der Philosophie und Medizin”, in his Kleine Schriften, I (Freiburg im Breisgau, 1889), 259–291, the best general survey; and C. Vasoli, La dialettica e la retorica dell’umanesimo (Milan, 1968), passim.

Charles B. Schmitt