Albert of Saxony (philosopher)

Albert of Saxony (philosopher)

Albert of Saxony (Latin "Albertus de Saxonia"; (c. 1320 – 8 July 1390) was a German philosopher known for his contributions to logic and physics. He was bishop of Halberstadt from 1366 until his death.


Albert was born at Rickendorf near Helmstedt, the son of a farmer in a small village; but because of his talent, he was sent to study at the University of Prague and the University of Paris.

At Paris, he became a master of arts (a professor), and held this post from 1351 until 1362. In 1353, he was rector of the University of Paris. After 1362, Albert went to the court of Pope Urban V in Avignon as an envoy of Rudolf IV, Duke of Austria, in order to negotiate the founding of the University of Vienna. The negotiations were successful, and Albert became the first rector of this University in 1365.

In 1366, Albert was elected bishop of Halberstadt (counted as Albert III), Halberstadt being the diocese in which he was born. As Bishop of Halberstadt, he allied himself with Magnus with the Necklace, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, against Gebhard of Berg, Bishop of Hildesheim, and was taken prisoner by Gebhard in the battle of Dinckler in 1367.

He died at Halberstadt in 1390.


Albert was a pupil of Jean Buridan and was very much influenced by Buridan's teachings on physics and logic. As a natural philosopher, he worked in the tradition of John Buridan and contributed to the spread of Parisian natural philosophy throughout Italy and central Europe. Albert's work in logic also shows strong influence by William of Ockham, whose commentaries on the "logica vetus" (on Porphyry, and Aristotle's "Catagoriae" and "De interpretatione") were made the subject of a series of works called "Quaestiones" by Albert.

Albert of Saxony's teachings on logic and metaphysics were extremely influential. The Theory of impetus [Michael McCloskey: "Impetustheorie und Intuition in der Physik.". In: Spektrum der Wissenschaft: "Newtons Universum", Heidelberg 1990, ISBN 3-89330-750-8, S.18 ] introduced a third stage to the two stage theory of Avicenna.

# Initial stage. Motion is in a straight line in direction of impetus which is dominant while gravity is insignificant
# Intermediate stage. Path begins to deviate downwards from straight line as part of a great circle as air resistance slows projectile and gravity recovers.
# Last stage. Gravity alone draws projectile downwards vertically as all impetus is spent.

This theory [] l was a precursor to the modern theory of inertia.

Although Buridan remained the predominant figure in logic, Albert's "Perutilis logica" was destined to serve as a popular text because of its systematic nature and also because it takes up and develops essential aspects of the Ockhamist position. But it was his commentary on Aristotle's "Physics" that was especially widely read. Many manuscripts of it can be found in France and Italy, in Erfurt and Prague. Albert's Physics basically guaranteed the transmission of the Parisian tradition in Italy, where it was authoritative along with the works of Heytesbury and John Dumbleton. His commentary on Aristotle's "De caelo" was also influential, eventually eclipsing Buridan's commentary on this text. Blasius of Parma read it in Bologna between 1379 and 1382. A little later, it enjoyed a wide audience at Vienna. His "Treatise on Proportions" was often quoted in Italy where, in addition to the texts of Bradwardine and Oresme, it influenced the application of the theory of proportions to motion.

Albert played an essential role in the diffusion throughout Italy and central Europe of Parisian ideas which bore the mark of Buridan's teachings, but which were also clearly shaped by Albert's own grasp of English innovations. At the same time, Albert was not merely a compiler of the work of others. He knew how to construct proofs of undeniable originality on many topics in logic and physics.


*"De quadratura circuli" - "Question on the Squaring of the Circle"
*"Tractatus proportionum", Venice 1496 and Vienna 1971: editor Hubertus L. Busard
*"Perutilis Logica Magistri Alberti de Saxonia" ("Very Useful Logic"), Venedig 1522 and Hildesheim 1974 (reproduction)
*"Quaestiones" on the "Ars Vetus"
*"Quaestiones on the Posterior Analytics"
*"Quaestiones logicales" ("Logical Questions")
*"De consequentiis" (On Consequences) - attributed
*"De locis dialecticis" (On Dialectical Topics) - attributed
*"Sophismata et Insolubilia et Obligationes", Paris 1489 and Hildesheim 1975 (reproduction)
*"De latudinibus", Padua 1505
*"De latitudinibus formarum"
*"De maximo et minimo"


*sep entry|albert-saxony|Albert of Saxony|Joél Biard|2008-04-29
*MacTutor Biography|id=Albert
* [ Friedrich Wilhelm Bautz. Biographisch-bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon]
* [ Zedlers Universal-Lexicon, vol. 1, p. 542]
* [,adb0010198) Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, vol. 1, p. 182-183]

Further reading

* cite encyclopedia
last = Moody
first = Ernest A.
title = Albert of Saxony
encyclopedia = Dictionary of Scientific Biography
volume = 1
pages = 93-95
publisher = Charles Scribner's Sons
location = New York
date = 1970
isbn = 0684101149

* cite encyclopedia
last = Thijssen
first = Johannes M. M. H.
title = Albert of Saxony
encyclopedia = New Dictionary of Scientific Biography
volume = 1
pages = 34-36
publisher = Charles Scribner's Sons
location = New York
date = 2007
isbn = 9780684313207


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