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Isagoge ( ancient Greek εἰσαγωγή, eisagogé "introduction") is the title of several ancient, medieval and early modern writings. The best-known of these works is the short introduction to Aristotle's category script , which was written by the Greek philosopher Porphyrios in the 3rd century. She had a significant influence on the philosophy of the Middle Ages .

The isagogue of Porphyry

The beginning of the Isagogue in the manuscript Venice, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana , Gr. IV 53, fol. 1r (13th century)

In the isagogue , Porphyrios explains five interrelated basic philosophical concepts, the so-called predicables :

  1. Genus (Greek γένος génos , Latin genus )
  2. Type (Greek εἶδος eîdos , Latin species )
  3. Difference (Greek διαφορά diaphorá , Latin differentia )
  4. Proprium (Greek ἴδιον ídion , Latin proprium )
  5. Commercial printing (Greek συμβεβηκός symbebekós , Latin accidens ).

Right at the beginning of the text, Porphyrios formulates three questions regarding the distinction between species and genera from the Aristotelian topic , which defined the framework of the medieval universal dispute:

  1. Are universals dependent or independent of thought?
  2. If they are independent, do they exist as real things?
  3. Are they separated from or connected to the senses?

Porphyry expressly does not answer these questions.

Their discussion only began with Boëthius , who translated the isagogue twice into Latin and commented on it in detail. Since this and other Latin translations, the script is also known under the title Quinque voces (Latin "five terms"). In the Western Middle Ages , the isagogue in Boëthius' translation was the most important introductory manual of the logica vetus ("old", i.e. Aristotelian logic ). The Arabic translation that Abu 'Uthman ad-Dimashqi made around 900 had a comparable effect in the Arabic-speaking world . Further translations into Latin, Syrian and Armenian are known; Overall, the script was commented on more than twenty times and was used as an introductory textbook until the 12th century .

Following the isagogue , the metaphor of the arbor porphyriana was coined in the Middle Ages . The arbor porphyriana represents the systematic classification of genera and species as a recursive tree.

The arbor porphyriana also serves to discuss philosophical problems:

Works of the same name by other authors

  • Albinus , a Middle Platonist , wrote an introduction to Platonic philosophy, formerly known as the Isagogue and now known as the Prologue , in the 2nd century .
  • Hunayn ibn Ishaq (called Johannitius ), an Arabic Christian translator, provided the isagogue (Iohanicii) (Isagoge des Johannitius; original title: Kitāb al-mudḫal fi'ṭibb ' ), an introduction to medicine with explanations that was widespread in the Middle Ages the humoral pathology and physiology from ancient Greek sources. The first translation into Latin ( Isagoge ad tegni Galeni ) was done by Constantinus Africanus , an 11th century Benedictine.
  • Berengario da Carpi wrote an anatomical textbook entitled Isagoge in 1522 .
  • Boncompagno da Signa ( 1194 - 1243 ), an orator, wrote a Isagoge (also Ysagoge called).
  • Rudolf Goclenius the Elder (1547–1628), a Marburg metaphysician, wrote an isagogue in Organum Aristotelis in 1598 .
  • Julius Sperber (around 1540-1616), alchemist and Rosicrucian, wrote an isagogue in 1608 as "an introduction to the true knowledge of God and nature".
  • Jean-Baptiste Besard wrote Isagoge in artem testudinariam , a textbook for the lute .
  • Johann Crato von Krafftheim : Isagoge medicinae. Venice 1560.

Editions and translations of the Isagogue of Porphyry

  • Adolf Busse (Ed.): Porphyrii isagoge et in Aristotelis categorias commentarium (= Commentaria in Aristotelem Graeca , Vol. 4 Part 1). Georg Reimer, Berlin 1887 (critical edition of the Isagoge including the Latin translation by Boethius and the text On the 'Categories' of Aristotle in question and answer ; the latter edition is outdated. Online: BNF )
  • Hans Günter Zekl : Porphyrios: Introduction to the categories of Aristotle (isagogue) . In: Hans Günter Zekl: Aristoteles: Categories, Hermeneutics (= Aristoteles: Organon. Volume 2). Meiner, Hamburg 1998, ISBN 3-7873-1313-3 , pp. 153-188 (translation)
  • Jonathan Barnes: Porphyry: Introduction . Clarendon Press, Oxford 2003, ISBN 0-19-924614-9 (English translation of the isagogue with extensive commentary)
  • Porphyry introduction to the categories . Newly translated and provided with an introduction and explanatory notes. In: Eugen Rolfes (Ed.): Aristoteles Categories . Felix Meiner Verlag , Leipzig 1920, p. 1–27 ( digitized in the Internet Archive ).

Literature on the isagogue of Porphyrios

  • Christos Evangeliou: The Aristotelianism of Averroes and the Problem of Porphyry's Isagoge. In: Philosophia No. 15-16, 1985-86, pp. 318-331.

Web links


  1. Gregor Maurach : Johannicius: Isagoge ad Techne Galieni. In: Sudhoff's archive. Vol. 62, 1978, pp. 148-174; Francis Newton: Constantine the African and Monte Cassino. New elements and the text of the Isagoge. In: Charles Burnett, Danielle Jacquart (eds.): Constantine the African and ʿAli ibn al-ʿAbbas al-Mağūsī. The Pantegni and related texts (= Studies in ancient medicine , 10). Leiden / New York / Cologne 1994, pp. 16–47.
  2. ^ Karl Fischer: The nomina anatomica in the "Isagogae" of Berengario da Carpi. A contribution to the anatomical nomenclature before Vesal. Leipzig 1943 (medical dissertation).
  3. ^ Isagogue , Latin text and English translation online ( Memento of August 7, 2007 in the Internet Archive ).