TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures

JOHANN LAVATER, Systema logicum

In Latin, manuscript on paper
[Switzerland, Zurich ?, 1656-1657]

TM 36

[i] + 348 pages, complete, mostly in quires of 4 and 8(i8, ii-xx4, xxi-xxxi8, xxxii-xxxiii4, with pp. 80, 198-200, 340 and 348 blank), quires of blank pages precede and follow written text (blank : 6 first flyleaves and two quires of 4 and 6 folios before and after engraved frontispiece ; 24 blank pages after last written page), engraved allegorical frontispiece showing Studio and Vigilantia with added manuscript title that reads : "Systema logicum Studio et labore conscriptum" (above title, in Greek: "Belief in a single God," below title, certain words have been cut out), written in brown ink, in a regular semi-cursive book script, on up to 38 long lines (justification : 100 x 160 mm), ruled in green ink, catchwords at the bottom of each page, titles in five different colored pigments (orange, green, blue, red and yellow), passages underlined in green, pale red or orange ink, text of title-page and text divisions (f. [i], p. 79, 259, 341) copied in a foliate and floral frame (green, red and pink palette), large colored initials (red, green, blue) with penwork of rinceaux extending in the margin (red, brown, green ink), four fold-out charts written in brown ink and highlighted in orange and green. CONTEMPORARY BINDING of gold-tooled dark brown morocco, covers paneled with triple blind-stamped fillets, covers decorated with floral and rinceaux roll-tooled borders, central ornament of floral and rinceaux tools, spine in five compartments, spine decorated with fillets, pointillé and floral tools. Dimensions: 150 x 193 mm.

Unpublished autograph manuscript on systematic logic, attractively illustrated with colorful explanatory tables, by a Swiss professor (from the famous Lavater family), who most likely used it in the preparation and teaching of his courses at the University of Zurich in the 1650s.


1. Probably an autograph school text by the Swiss professor, Johann Henricus Lavater (1611-91). He was born and died in Zurich, where he occupied the Chair of Physics and Mathematics at the University of Zurich held before him by his father Henricus (died 1625). Although the text is dated 1657 on page 347, two other dates appear on the same page doubtless added by a later owner: 1724 and 1726. On the following blank page, there is a German inscription and "Thema Germanicum die 28 Junii 1724."

2. Heraldic bookplate pasted on front pastedown with shelfmark : AA IV 29 no. 3355.


f.[i], Title page: Systema logicum a venerando doctissimoque domino Johanne Lavatero professore logicae in collegio humanitatis dignissimo, adornatum. Anno 1656;

pp. 1-2, Quotes from Plato, Jerome, Goclenius and Keckermannus on the diginity and necessity of Dialectics: "De dignitate et necessitate dialecticae. Plato in Parmenide [...]; Hieronymus in Ezechielem [...] ; Goclenius in Praefatione Institutionibus logicis praemissa [...]; Keckermannus Praecognitus logicus tractatus II. Cap. I" ;

pp. 3-78, Systema logicum, Book I: "Systematis logici liber primus, de themate. Caput I, De logicae definitione et divisione. Incipit: "Logica est ars tradens modum bene disserendi ad acquirendam..." ; Explicit "...non vestem ipsam nec substantiam quem vestitur" (11 chapters in all);

pp. 79-197, Systema logicum, Book II: "Systematis logici liber secundus" (p. 79) ; "Systematis logici liber secundus de argumentis. Caput I, De argumentis in genere. Incipit : "Fuit thema sequitur argumentum..."; Explicit : "....item sensuum experientiae et conscientiae" (16 chapters in all);

pp. 201-258, Systema logicum, Book III: "Systematis logici liber tertius de instrumentis dispositionis. Sectio prima de propositione (p. 201); Caput I, De propositionis simplicis constitutione. Incipit: "Vidimus instrumenta logica inventionis : sequuntur instrumenta nos dirigentia..." ; Explicit "...quod quidam homine sint docti" (5 chapters in all)

pp. 259-339, Systema logicum, Book III (part II): "Systematis logici liber tertius de Instrumentis dispositionis. Sectio secunda de syllogismo" (p. 259); Caput I De syllogismi simplicis constitutione. Incipit : "Tantum de propositione sequitur syllogismus..."; Explicit: "...et summi pontifices et notantur" (7 chapters in all);

pp. 341-346, Systema logicum, Book III (part III): "Libri tertii section tertia, De methodo" (p. 341); Libri tertii sectio tertia de methodo; Incipit: "Fuit syllogismus : restat methodus quae est instrumentum logicum bene ordinandi..."; Explicit: "...potissimum utuntur oratores et poetae. [followed by "The End" in Greek]."

p. 347, Explicit: "Jehovae Zebaoth, individuae ac Sacro Sanctae Trinitatis honor sit et laus in secula seculorum, "Amen ! "Amen ! 1657".

The present manuscript contains the writings on Systematic Logic by a well-known professor at the University of Zurich. The origin of systematic logic in Western thought is considered to be Aristotle's collection of treatises, the Organon(or "Tool"), which posited three laws basic to all valid thought. First, the law of identity; second, the law of contradiction; and, third, the law of the excluded middle. For Aristotle, any argument could be reduced to a standard form, known as a syllogism. Lavater's treatise expands on the principles of Aristotelian systematic logic.

Never published, Lavater's work may have served as his course notes. The manuscript deserves to be further studied for its contribution to the history of systematic logic and for its place in Lavater's writings. Colorfully annotated with painted title pages dividing the book into sections, our manuscript carefully lays out the hierarchy of thought, which the added tables further embellish and augment. It is easy to imagine its effective use as a teaching tool.

Johann Lavater is from a family of philosophers, the most famous of which is his descendant, Johann Caspar Lavater (1741-1801), patriot, preacher and theologian, scientist, writer, friend of Goethe, and so forth. The former published the following works, in addition to his unpublished treatise on philosophy: Analyse des eaux thermales (1667) and Réglements pour la peste, destinés à l'usage de la ville de Zurich (1668).


There are four fold-out tables that illustrate and synthesize the author's thought and text:

Table A, On substance: "Substantia" (between pp. 52 and 53);

Table B, On quantity: "Quantitas est vel" (between pp. 53 and 54);

Table C, On quality: "Qualitatis species sunt quatuor" (between pp. 62 and 63);

Table D, On syllogisms: "Syllogismus consideratur" (between pp. 260 and 261).


Michaud, Louis-Gabriel. Biographie universelle ancienne et moderne, Paris, 1855, vol. 23, p. 426.

Online resources

On Johann Caspar Lavater (1741-1801)