Classics in the History of Psychology

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Marko Marulic -- The Author of the Term "Psychology"

K. Krstic (1964)

First published in Acta Instituti Psychologici Universitatis Zagrabiensis, no. 36, pp. 7-13.

© 1964 Facultas Philosophica Universitatis Studiorum Zagrabiensis.

Posted May 2001

[Classics Editor's note: Because of the limitations of the current version of HTML, several names are missing accents they should rightly bear. Krstic, Marulic, and others ending in "c" should properly have acute accents over the final letter. Bozicevic should, in addition, have haceks over the "z" and the first "c". Bolsaja should have a hacek over the "s", and Necujam a hacek over the "c". In addition, for similar reasons, angled quotation marks have been replaced with inverted commas throughout. Thanks to Dr. Vladimir Kolesaric for making this article available to Classics, and to the Institute for Psychology in Zagreb for permission to republish it.]

In technical and encyclopaedic literature one can find somewhat different information about when the word "psychology" was formed and who was the first to use it. In the main psychological and philosophical dictionaries, textbooks, and leading world encyclopaedias there are for the most part three different opinions of the origin of this term which, as the word denoting scientific or philosophic dealing with the phenomena of psychic (subjective, conscious) life, has now come into very wide use. All the three names connected with the formation of the term "psychology" are the names of the people of German origin from the 16th century. Two of them are of little significance: Rudolf Göckel and Otto Casmann, while the third is very famous and generally known: Filip Melanchton

Rudolf Göcke1(1547-1628), in philosophic literature more known under his latinized name Goclenius, was professor of physics, mathematics, logic, and ethics at the university of his native town Marburg on Lahn. By his philosophic attitude he belonged to the so-called "Semiramists", i.e. the group of the Aristotelians who were half-way between those advocating dialectic interpretation of Aristotle's learning, like Melanchton, and those advocating its averroistic exposition, Like Pierre de la Ramée (Petrus Ramus, 1515-1572) and his followers ("Ramists"). In addition to several treatises from the field of logic and a philosophic dictionary ("Lexicon philosophicum"), Göckel published a tractate, in Marburg in 1590, entitled "yucologia hoc est de hominis perfectione, anima, ortu". This work, as far as is known today, is indeed the first preserved printed book to contain the word "psychology" and in its Greek form and written in Greek letters at that.

Otto Casmann (1562-1607) belongs to the liberal Protestant philosophers from the close of the 16th century. He was a priest and rector in Stade. Among his numerous works from the field of philosophy, theology, and natural sciences, the one, having the word "psychology" in its title is the most important; this is "Psychologia anthropologica" printed in Hanau in 1594. The second part of the book, under the title "Anthropologiae pars II", was published in the same town in 1596. [p. 8]

Although the first edition of Göckel's book was published four years before Casmann's, Casmann is even today sometimes quoted as the author of the term "psychology", either because the informants do not know Göckel's work or are careless in comparing the dates of the publication of the first editions of Casmann's and Göckel's book. Surprisingly enough, the latest edition of Larousse Encyclopedia (6 tomes) also ascribes priority in the use of the word "psychology" to Casmann. On p. 27, tome II, under the name Casmann Othon, we can read as follows:

"He is the first writer to use the word psychology for the science of the soul which, however, he considers only a part of somatology (the science of the body). His main work is entitled 'Psychologia anthropologica sive Animae humanae doctrina'["].

This quotation is all the more surprising because in a large, much older dictionary of the same publishing firm (Grand dictionnaire universal Larousse) we can find a more correct piece of information. In the 13th tome of this imposing dictionary, p. 376, we can read as follows:

"Although psychologic science is as old as philosophy itself, the word denoting it is new and goes back not further than the 16th century when Goclenius, today a quite unknown German philosopher, used it in his work entitled yucologia, hoc est de hominis perfectione, anima, ortu etc (Marbourg, 1590, in 80)."

Priority in the term "psychology" is also recognized to Göckel by Überweg's large manual of the history of philosophy. When giving data on Rudolf Goclenius it is said:

"…in addition to numerous treatises on logic … he is also the author of yucologia, h. hominis perfectione, anima, etc , Marburg 159o (the first written document using the word psychology in its title)". (F. Überweg, Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie; Part III, Berlin 1924, p.110).

Almost the same quotati can be found in the big "Lexicon of Philosophers" published in Berlin in 1949. Quoting the already mentioned work yucologia among Goclenius's works, the authors add in brackets: "the first written document using the term psychology" (W. Ziegenfuss -- G. Jung, Philosophen-Lexicon, Berlin 1949, tome·I, p. 394). Schmidt's (nazified) philosophical dictionary from 1943 also says:

"Goclenius Rudolf... by his work "Psychologia" (1590) has given the first, first written document containing the word psychology in its title..." (H. Schmidt, Philosophisches Wörterbuch, Tenth Edition, Stuttgart l943, p. 200).

The same is stated in Kirchner-Michaëlis's dictionary of philosophic notions (rewritten by J. Hoffmeister):

The term "psychology… as the title of a book was used first by R. Goclenius (Psychologia, 1590) and then enlarged by Chr. Wolff..." (F. Kirchner-Michaëlis·-- J. Hoffmeister, Wörterbuch der philosophischen Begiiffe, Leipzg 1944, p. 561-2).

However, most books I have succeeded in consulting, although they quote Göckel's "Psychology", state categorically or quote it as probable [p. 9] that even before Göckel the word "psychology" was used by Filip Melanchton, and usually add that Melanchton used this new term in his "lectures".· Thus, for instance, the largest dictionary of philosophic notions, Eisler's .Wörterbuch der philosophischen Begriffe", tome II (4th edition, Berlin 1929, p. 533) says:

"The term psychology became common only with Christian Wolff. Before, instead of it, the term peri yuchV , de anima, and the like, and later 'pneumatology' had been used. "Psychologia" first in Melanchton (in his lectures), Goclen (as the title of a book from 1590), and Casmann (Psych. anthropol., 1594)."

Here there are some more quotations:

"The term 'psychology'... seems to have been coined by Melanchton (in its Latin form psychologia); its use was particularly enlarged by Rudolf Goclenius who in 1590 gave the title yucologia to one of his treatises De hominis perfectione, anima. Coming definitely into use with Leibnitz and Wolff's school, the term became common..." (Enciclopedia italiana, tome 28, Rome 1935, p. 457; almost the same quotation is contained in the large new Italian encyclopaedia "Dizionario" enciclopedico italiano", tome 9, p. 899, rome 1958).

"The term was first used in lectures by Melanchton (about 1550) and in print by Goclen (about 1600)" (H. C. Warren, Dictionary of Psychology, Cambridge 1934, p. 217).

"...the word psychology... derives from Rudolf Göckel who, in 1590, published the book 'Psychologia hoc est de hominis perfectione, anima, ortu'. The term was put to use by Melanchton" (Ottuv Slovnik naucny, tome 20, Prague 1903, p. 922).

"Melanchton is claimed to have used this term (i.e. the term 'psychology') about 40 years before it appeared in the title of a printed work (Goeckel's, 1590)". (Ph. L. Hariman, The New Dictionary of Psychology, New York 1947, p. 274).

Strangely enough, none of the standard informative works I have consulted and which ascribe the authorship of the term "psychology" to Melanchton, give either a title or quotation from his "lectures" in which this word could be found, although all Melanchton's written documents are printed. Nowhere can we find the name of someone attending Melanchton's lectures and putting down where Melanchton used this term, at least orally. This lack of documentation concerning Melanchton as the creator of the term "psychology" was noted as early as 1930 by A. Lalande, one of the distinguished collaborators in the largest French textbook on psychology edited by G. Dumas. This is what Lalande says:

"The word psychology was used by Goclenius, professor at Marburg, as the title of a work of his (1590), but the word does not appear in Lexicon Philosophicum, the work of the same author (1613). His disciple, theologian Casmann, also published a Psychologia anthropologica, sive animae humanae doctrina (Hanau 1594); he thinks that psychology and anatomy (somatotomy) make the whole of anthropology. [p. 10] Melanchton is also claimed to have used this word 'als Vorlesungstitel' (Eucken, Geschichte der philosophischen Terminologie, p. 75; according to Volkmann, who gives no more particulars.). I myself could not find this title in any of the 25 tomes of his collected works, Corpus Reformatorum, edition Bretschneider· In it, tome 13, p. 4, in a preface giving successive titles of the treatise De Anima, one can only find, the following remark made by the editor: 'Melanchtonus primus inter Germanos quos scimus, psychologiam in hoc libro tractavit' (in this work Melanchton, the first among the Germans we know, deals with psychology).· Is this perhaps the origin of the quoted claim?" (G. Dumas, Nouveau traité de Psychologie, tome I, Paris 1930, p. 367).

Lalande has drawn attention to his opinion also in the latest extensive "Technical-Critical Dictionary of Philosophy" edited by himself and published by the French Philosophical Society.. There, in an article on psychology, we can read: "The word psychology goes back to the 16th century (see A. Lalande, .introduction to Traité de Psychologie of G. Dumas or Nouveau Traité; edited by the same author, tome I, p.367) but came into common use only in the 18th century through Wolff's works Psychologia empirica and Psychologia rationalis (1732-1734). The word became widely used in France thanks to Maine de Biran and the eclectic school which took it as the name of the one of the four main sections of its learning." (A. Lalande, Vocabulaire technique et critique de la philosophie, 6th edit., Paris 1951, p. 854).

In connection with the origin of the word "psychology" I have only quoted a few standard or more widely known works in which this kind of information is usually looked for. I want to add, however, that a series of similar works consulted do not say a single word about the matter we are interested in. Thus, for example, Encyclopaedia Britannica (from 1961), the Soviet Bolsaja enciclopedija (1955), the large Brockhaus containing 12 tomes (1956), the Meyer Lexicon in 21 tomes (1909), Herder's Lexicon in 12 tomes (1934), and Mauthner's Philosophical Dictionary (München 1910) say either nothing or something very vague about the origin of the term "psychologia".

To examine the matter as thoroughly as possible, I also looked up in a few dictionaries containing Latin and Greek words used by the writers of the Middle Ages or the beginning of Modern History, but in none of them could I find the word "psychology". or, to be more exact, a word composed of the. Greek elements yuch and -- logia.

The results of all these investigations could be summarized as follows: According to the present state of terminological-historical studies the word "psychology", in its Greek form and in Greek letters, appeared for the first time in the work of Rudolf Göckel "yucologia, hoc est de hominis perfectione, anima, etc." in 1590. No evidence has so far been found for Melanchton's authorship of this word, but even if it were, if would originate from about 1530 when the first edition of Melanchton's lectures "on the soul" ("De anima", Wittenberg 1530) appeared. [p. 11]

However, in a document known for years there is a detail which has unfortunately remained unnoticed until now and which fully entitles us to a complete revision of the established opinion on the first appearance of the word "psychology" in the scientific language of Europe. At least 66 years before Gockel (and also a few years before the publication of Melanchton's lectures "on the soul"), the term "psychology" was used by our great humanist, the poet of "Judita", Marko Marulic (1450-1524) in one of his Latin treatises not as yet found but whose title "Psichiologia de ratione animae humanae" is preserved in a list of Marulic's works given by the poet's fellow-citizen, contemporary, and friend Bozicevic-Natalis in his "Life of Marko Marulic from Split" (Vita Marci Maruli Spalatensis).

About Franjo Bozicevic himself there are very few biographic data: even the years of his birth and death have not as yet been ascertained. F. Fancev considers him to have been 20-30 years younger than Marulic (Croatian Encyclopaedia, tome III, p. 200); the chronological analysis of his poems fixes his death "not before" 1536. In a section of the biography dealing with Marulic's friends, Bozicevic describes his personal relations with the great Split humanist with the following words: ".... nor I, Franjo, though in mind and by education the youngest, by any means content to be put in the second place in my love for him..." ("...ego itidem Franciscus, licet ingenio et doctrina novissimus, in amore tamen ipsius secundis honoribus minime contentus..."). Some poetical epistles exchanged between Marulic and Bozicevic have been preserved; one of Marulic's most beautiful poems is addressed to Bozicevic: an invitation to his friends to come to see him at Necujam Although in Bozicevic description of Marulic's life and personality there are some stereotyped, superlative, and quasi-hagiographic elements typical of the time, a close, friendly relation between Marulic and his biographer can make us sure that Bozicevic was very well informed about the details of Marulic's literary work The accuracy of Bozicevic information can be checked by comparing it with the data from other sources, in the first place with those from Marulic's will dictated by Marulic himself to his notary before his death (P. Kdendic, Marulic's will, Split 1924).

The manuscript of Marulic's biography is in the City Library at Split, in a codex also containing Bozicevic's poems. So far it has been published several times: in Farlati's "Illyricum sacrum" (tome 3, Venice, 1765, pp. 433-5), in a jubilee booklet of V. Milic "On the Occasion of the Quatercentenary of Croatian Art Poetry" (second edition, Split 1902), in the work of M. Markovc "Poetae Latini Dalmatiae inediti. 1. Franjo Bozicevic (Living antiquity, 2nd year, tome 2, Skopje 1952, pp. 291-296) etc. The manuscript is written in a humanistic cursive way, typical of the beginning of the 16th century, so that the hand-writing itself, as well as all other circumstances, indicate that the manuscript is Bozicevic's autograph (it is considered as such, among others, also by the two most distinguished investigators of Bozicevic's works, by P. Kolendic and M. Markovic).

The title of the work containing the term "psychology" (Psichiologia de ratione animae humanae liber I) appears in the fifth section of the [p. 12] biography, in the List of Marulic's works, between the titles of two manuscripts: a treatise "On the Kings of Dalmatia" (Dalmatiae regum liber I) and the epic "Davidias". (Davidiados carmen libri XIV). By, enumerating Marulic·'s works "briefly", as he says himself ("paucis comprehensa") Bozicevic sets forth 18 titles of either printed works or manuscripts. Although it is quite obvious that Bozicevic quotes the titles for the most part by heart and somewhat superficially (thus, for example, the already mentioned title "Dalmstiae regum" conceals a translation of Dukljanin's chronicle), 17 works on the list can easily be identified with Marulic's printed works, preserved manuscripts, or the works that Marulic himself mentioned as his own in his will (the manuscript of the epic "Davidias" was discovered only a few years ago, containing exactly as many -- 14 -- cantos as are quoted by Bozicevic ). The work "Psichiologia" is known so far only from Bozicevic's list but the possibility of its being found in manuscript or even in printed form some day cannot be excluded.

In the title of the treatise on "the human soul", as is quoted by Bozicevic, the term "psychology" is recorded as "psichiologia". Although the difference between the form "psichiologia" and "psychologia" is insignificant (like that one between the doublet stoichiologia and stoicheiologia), I do not think it likely that Marulic, an outstanding [p. 13] connoisseur of both the Greek and Latin language, gave the term the very form recorded by his biographer. I think that Bozicevic, not very good at orthography (of which let his manuscripts be the proof), somehow modified Marulic's original term, at least changing y in i, and perhaps treating the first part of the compound word as compounds with "physis" (physiologia, physiognomia). In any case Marulic's term is the oldest case known so far of compounding the noun yuch and the suffix -logia to form a term denoting the science of mental life -- the term "psychology".