The Jesuits and the quiet side of the Scientific Revolution

In Thomas Worcester (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Jesuits. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 243-260 (2008)
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Working from within the Lakatosian framework of scientific change, this paper seeks to gain a deeper understanding of the Jesuits’ role in the scientific revolution during the years of Galileo’s trials and the subsequent century. Their received research program was Aristotelian cosmology. Their efforts to construct protective belts to shield the core principles were fueled not only by the basic instinct to conserve but also by the impact of official prohibitions from the side of Church authorities. The paper illustrates how these Church restrictions were not as paralyzing for Jesuit intellectuals as has often been thought. They left considerable space for maneuvering. The paper shows how, within this space, Jesuits were engaged mainly in the indispensable task of exhausting all the potential of Aristotelian cosmology. They did this primarily by trying to build intellectual bridges to ensure coherence between three realms of the cosmological imagination of the time: the received Aristotelian view, the new empirical data, and the realm of everyday experience.

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Louis Caruana
Pontificia Universita Gregoriana


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