Histographical Essay

Histographical Essay-70
The need to determine the date of the spring equinox to fix the date of Easter had always been a boon to mathematics and observational astronomy in the Middle Ages.

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Schott used the pump to experiment with atmospheric air and ignored the issue of the vacuum.

This is another instance of Jesuits contributing to the advancement of science within their Aristotelian context.

And they have begun to notice that Catholic intellectuals and members of religious orders were importantly engaged in this study: “There was one order, however, that stands out from all others as the scientific order without rival in seventeenth-century Catholicism, and that of course is the Society of Jesus.”One of the first scholars to call attention to the Jesuit role in the advancement of early modern science was J. Heilbron who, writing about electricity, declared, “Knowledge about electricity was kept alive during the seventeenth century by Jesuit polymaths.

They also enriched the subject with valuable observations.” Heilbron noted that mathematics was a major part of the Jesuit curriculum because it was necessary for the study of astronomy, geography, chronology, military technology, navigation, and surveying, subjects that were important for the sons of aristocrats they were educating who often sought a career in government or the military.

The period in the history of science that concentrates on the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries has traditionally been called “the Scientific Revolution.” This narrative, which held sway for about two hundred years, maintained that it began with the proposal of a heliocentric universe by Copernicus, concentrating on those developments in astronomy and physics that confirmed his hypothesis, and ended with Isaac Newton (1642–1727) and his associates.

This was a story of great men of science who, rightly according to its adherents, rejected the Aristotelian physics and Ptolemaic astronomy that was impeding human understanding of the natural world.Wallace on Jesuits and Galileo, Roger Ariew on Jesuits and Descartes); one on patronage (Martha Baldwin on Jesuit book production); two on Jesuits in less-studied parts of Europe (Victor Navarro on Spain, G. While his overview of the science by modern Jesuits breaks more new ground, in his book he paid more attention to early Jesuit work with meteorology and seismology than has generally been the case, and this formed a bridge between pre-suppression and post-suppression Jesuit science.Udías’s description of Jesuit astronomy complements his earlier work detailing Jesuit observatories around the world, and both volumes attest to the breadth of the Jesuit involvement in science.Bernard Barthet and Antonella Romano turned to the Jesuits in France.Barthet noted that French Jesuits often used the occult, particularly alchemy, magic, and Kabbalah, to help explain certain phenomena, such as magnetism, motion, matter, and optics, which they studied in France during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.In this period subjects that are anathema to today’s scientific community—magic, astrology, alchemy—were studied and accepted as valid scientific pursuits.They included other subjects, like cartography and chronology, in their study of nature.One of the leading observers was Giovanni Domenico Cassini (1625–1712), after whom NASA’s spacecraft mission to Saturn was named.Cassini was not a Jesuit, but he studied with them, and Heilbron made the case that he pursued his career in astronomy because of them.On the other hand, scholars who focused on early modern science began to notice not just the continuities with medieval science but also the often vast differences between their subject and modern science.They have pointed out how the use of the terms “science” and “scientist” was anachronistic, for early modern scholars studied natural philosophy in the universities, and there was no professional class of scientists.


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