Marsilius of Inghen

Marsilius of Inghen
Marsilius of Inghen, copy from the 18th century of a renaissance woodcut

Marsilius of Inghen (between 1330 and 1340 – August 20, 1396) was a medieval Dutch Scholastic philosopher who studied with Albert of Saxony and Nicole Oresme under Jean Buridan. He was Magister at the University of Paris as well as at the University of Heidelberg from 1386 to 1396.



He was born near Nijmegen. Details about his family and early life are not well known, the first known date of his biography being September 27, 1362. On that day he gave his Magister Artium lecture at the University of Paris. There he took up work and was rector in 1367 and 1371. Aside from his philosophical and logical studies, he also studied theology, in which subject his lectures enjoyed large popularity. In 1378, Marsilius was the delegate of University of Paris for the Pope Urban VI in Tivoli.

After 1379 the name of Marsilius of Inghen was not mentioned anymore in the recordings of the University of Paris. He was probably driven out of the university because of a schism. In 1383 Marsilius and Albert of Saxony went to spread the nominalist doctrine at[where?]. In 1386, Marsiluis became the first rector of the University of Heidelberg, which he founded with the help of Rupert I, Elector Palatine.

In 1386 Marsilius became Magister at that university, of which he was rector nine times altogether: From 1386, the year of the foundation of the university, to 1392 and still from June 23 up to his death. From 1389 to 1390 he was responsible for transferring the university register to Rome. Afterwards he took up again the study of theology. Deceased just months later, Marsilius of Inghen was buried in the Church of Peter (Heidelberger Peterskirche) at Heidelberg.


In logic, he was an Aristotelian nominalist; in natural philosophy, an empiricist. He applied a synthesis of the new 14th century physics of Buridan, Thomas Bradwardine and Oresme in his commentaries on Aristotle. Both his theological and philosophical works are characterized by a logico-semantical approach in which he followed Buridan, combined with an eclectic use of older theories, sometimes more Aristotelian and sometimes more Neoplatonist; this fact that renders narrow the label "Ockhamist" often applied to Marsilius. He was influential on Central European philosophy of later centuries, both through his own philosophy and by the way he stimulated reform of university programmes. In the 16th century there were still references to a "Marsilian way" in logic and physics.

In his Questions on the Eight Books of the Physics, Marsilius cites ancient experiments with the clepsydra as proof that "nature abhors a vacuum."



  • Marsilius of Inghen, Quaestiones super quattuor libros Sententiarum, vol. 1: Super primum, quaestiones 1-7, ed. G. Wieland, M. Santos Noya, M. J. F. M. Hoenen, M. Schulze, Studies in the History of Christian Thought 87, ed. M. Santos Noya, Leiden 2000.
  • Marsilius of Inghen, Quaestiones super quattuor libros Sententiarum, vol. 2: Super primum, quaestiones 8-21, ed. G. Wieland, M. Santos Noya, M. J. F. M. Hoenen, M. Schulze, Studies in the History of Christian Thought 88, ed. M. Santos Noya, Leiden 2000.
  • Marsilius of Inghen, Treatises on the Properties of Terms. A First Critical Edition of the Suppositiones, Ampliationes, Appellationes, Restrictiones and Alienationes with Introduction, Translation, Notes, and Appendices, ed. E. P. Bos, Synthese Historical Library 22, Dordrecht 1983.


  • Braakhuis, H. A. G., and M. J. F. M. Hoenen (eds.), Marsilius of Inghen, Artistarium Supplementa 7, Nijmegen 1992.
  • Hoenen, M. J. F. M., Marsilius of Inghen. Divine Knowledge in Late Medieval Thought, Studies in the History of Christian Thought 50, Leiden 1993.
  • Marshall P., "Parisian Psychology in the Mid-Fourteenth Century," Archives d'histoire doctrinale et littéraire du Moyen Age 50 (1983), 101-193.


  • Bos, E.P. "Marsilius of Inghen", Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1997.
  • Marsilius of Inghen entry by Hoenen, M. J. F. M., in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  • Longeway, J., "Marsilius of Inghen", Cambridge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition, p. 537.
  • Overfield, J. H., Humanism and Scholasticism in Late Medieval Germany, 1984, p. 8.
  • Sachs, Joe. Aristotle's Physics: A Guided Study, New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2005. p. 116.

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