Jakob Schegk

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Jakob Schegk
Engraving of Jakob Schegk by Jost Amman
Born 6 June 1511
Schorndorf, Duchy of Württemberg
Died 9 May 1587
Tübingen, Duchy of Württemberg
Era Renaissance philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School Aristotelianism
Main interests
Metaphysics, Medicine, Theology

Jakob Schegk (also known as Jakob Degen, Johann Jacob Brucker Schegk, Jakob Schegk the elder, Schegkius, and Scheckius) (6 June 1511 – 9 May 1587) was a polymath German Aristotelian philosopher and academic physician.

Origins and education[edit]

Born Jakob Degen in Schorndorf, son of the citizen Bernhard Degen, he adopted the name Schegk/Schegkius which he used his entire adult life. A prodigy in classical languages, having studied with Johann Reuchlin’s student Johann Thomas in Schorndorf, Schegk made rapid progress upon enrolling at the University of Tübingen in 1527, taking his M.A. in 1529. He was received by the university senate and began lectures in philosophy and classics while only twenty. He remained in Tübingen for his entire career.[1]

Academic career[edit]

He took over the administration of the Tübinger Stift giving him the opportunity to develop a competence in theology. He likewise studied law prior to turning his attention to medicine in the 1530s. He took a doctorate in medicine in 1539 after studying with Leonhard Fuchs and Michael Rucker. He remained on the arts faculty until joining the medical faculty in 1553. Nevertheless, his philosophical expertise was too great to go untapped, and the university gave him the unusual dual commission to hold lectures in both medicine and Aristotle from 1564 onwards. His poor eyesight hampered his mobility, and he became totally blind by 1577. He nevertheless continued his academic career. In philosophy, he was a leading German Lutheran Aristotelian and was regarded as one of the greatest philosophical authorities of his age.[2] He died at Tübingen.

While somewhat neglected by modern scholarship, his numerous commentaries upon the Aristotelian corpus are highly regarded, especially his De demonstratione libri XV. He engaged a long running dispute against the Italian Aristotelian philosopher Simone Simoni. A committed Aristotelian, he resolutely opposed the philosophical innovations of Petrus Ramus.[3] He likewise was involved in a dialogue with Thomas Erastus concerning the ubiquity of Christ's physical body in the Lord's Supper.[4]

Prominent students included Nicolaus Taurellus and Andreas Planer, and Schegk exercised a more distant influence on the French Paracelsian Joseph Duchesne Quercetanus. Recent studies have demonstrated his long lasting impact on early modern medical theory.[5] Hans Weber dubbed him “the father and pioneer of Protestant Scholasticism.”[6]



  1. ^ Arthur Richter, "Degen, Jakob“ in Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, herausgegeben von der Historischen Kommission bei der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Band 5 (1877), pp. 21–22, Digitale Volltext-Ausgabe in Wikisource, URL: [1] (Version vom 6. April 2011, 02:41 Uhr UTC)
  2. ^ Arthur Richter, "Degen, Jakob“ in Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie,
  3. ^ Howard Hotson, Commonplace Learning: Ramism and its German Ramifications, 1543–1630 (2007) pp. 22, 102.
  4. ^ Charles D. Gunnoe, Thomas Erastus and the Palatinate: A Renaissance Physician in the Second Reformation (Leiden: Brill, 2011), pp. 155-158
  5. ^ Hiro Hirai, "The Invisible Hand of God in Seeds: Jacob Schegk’s Theory of Plastic Faculty," Early Science and Medicine 12 (2007) 377-404
  6. ^ Quoted in James Hinz, "Jacob Schegk," Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation (Oxford, 1996), vol 4, p. 2


  • Günter Frank, Die Vernunft des Gottesgedankens: Religionsphilosophische Studien zur frühen Neuzeit. Stuttgart, Bad Cannstatt, 2003 (Quaestiones ; 13). [Johann Jacob Brucker Schegk]
  • James Hinz, "Jacob Schegk," Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation (Oxford, 1996), vol. 4, p. 2. ISBN 0-19-506493-3
  • Hiro Hirai, "The Invisible Hand of God in Seeds: Jacob Schegk’s Theory of Plastic Faculty," Early Science and Medicine 12 (2007): 377-404.
  • Hiro Hirai, "Jacob Schegk on the Plastic Faculty and the Origins of Souls" in Medical humanism and natural philosophy: Renaissance debates on matter, life, and the soul (Leiden: Brill, 2011), 81-103.
  • Sachiko Kusukawa, "Lutheran uses of Aristotle: a comparison between Jacob Schegk and Philip Melanchthon." In Philosophy in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1999), pp. 169–205.
  • Albert Moll, "Jakob Degen und Oswald Gabelkover," in Medicinisches Correspondenzblatt des Württembergischen Ärztlichen Veriens 26 (1856): 81-85, 89-92, 97-103
  • Arthur Richter (1877), "Degen, Jakob (Philosoph)", Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB) (in German), 5, Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, pp. 21–22 
  • Christoph Sigwart, Jakob Schegk. Ein Bild aus der Geschichte der Universität Tübingen im 16. Jahrhundert. In Staatsanzeiger, Beilage 1883, pp. 65–79
  • Christoph Sigwart, “Jacob Schegk, Professor der Philosophie und Medizin. In Kleine Schriften, I, 256-291 (Freiburg, 1889).

External links[edit]