Encyclopaedia Cursus Philosophici

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The Encyclopaedia Cursus Philosophici is an encyclopedia of Johann Heinrich Alsted (1588–1638).

Frontispiece to the Encyclopaedia of Johann Heinrich Alsted (Herborn 1630)

Johann Heinrich Alsted published the Encyclopaedia in seven volumes in 1630 (or 1608 or 1620 [?]) in Herborn. It is often argued that this is one of the first works to bear the title "encyclopedia", though Joachim Sterck van Ringelbergh previously published in 1541 (1529[?]) Lucubrationes vel potius absolutissima kyklopaideia, and Paul Scalich in 1559 published Encyclopaedia seu orbis disciplinarum tam sacrarum quam prophanarum epistemon.

Alsted was attempting with his Encyclopaedia to emulate the combinatorial system of Ramon Llull as set out in Llull's 1308 Ars Magna, and thus to formulate a system of universal knowledge and a Llullian method for systematising the sciences. The scheme includes categorisations such as:

  • generic - specific;
  • peripheral - central;
  • internal - external;
  • communal - individual;
  • quantum ad locum - ad conditionem ad aetatem;
  • preparatorius - elaboratorius.

Alsted's approach influenced, among others, the pedagogue Johann Amos Comenius and the Hungarian encyclopedist Apáczai Csere János (1625–1659). Alsted's vision was that with the right methodologies of teaching and application, any person could have access to a perfect knowledge of all sciences.


  • Wilhelm Schmidt-Biggemann: Vorwort zum Reprint von J. H. Alsted, "Encyclopaedia" (1630). Stuttgart, Bad Cannstatt 1989