Johannes Jessenius’s Conception of Method

Acta Comeniana 20 (44-45):9-23 (2007)

Tomáš Nejeschleba
Palacky University
The problem of method, which became one of the most oft-examined themes in Renaissance philosophy, is likewise the subject of Jan Jessenius' Et Philosophiae et Medicinae Solidae Studiosis. In the context of contemporary discussions which ended up distinguishing between methods of cognition and methods of presentation, it is shown that Jessenius does not avail himself of this distinction - despite the fact that he is considered a student of the Paduan school. On one hand, Jessenius does distance himself from a rhetoricised form of logic which blurred the difference between method and the order of knowledge; on the other, he presents the method of attaining knowledge as a component part of the method of education. He understands logic, referring to Aristotle, mainly as an analytic art - not as dialectics. Analytics begin with induction, continues through the probabilistic syllogism, and is followed by a demonstration of the causes of things, thus drawing in essence from the progression of the demonstratio quia to the demonstratio propter quid, which the Paduan Aristotelians referred to as a regressus. According to Jessenius, however, the last phase of the whole process is definition, though its meaning is never precisely delimited. It appears that, rather than Paduan methodology, Jessenius took up the Aristotelian tradition which distinguishes four questions and associates different faculties of the human soul to each. He leaves aside the problems which were connected with the interpretation of Aristotle's texts during the Renaissance. In Jessenius' address, the question regarding whether scientific cognition is derived from first principles or first concepts remains unresolved. Johannes Jessenius thus appropriated the ideas of his Paduan teachers in a rather inconsistent manner and passed them on to his students in the same spirit, which bears witness to the level at which the methodology of science had been developed outside of its great centres at the turn of the 17th century.
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