INTRODUCTION STEVEN J. HARRIS Brandeis University The (partial) shift in the history of early modern science over the last twenty-five years from episodes of genius, discovery, and method organized by the presumably transcendent themes of a grand narrative to micro-stories of mundane practices embedded in supposedly disparate "local knowledges" and in deep and dense social milieux, has provided an unexpected opening for studies on the scientific work of members of the Society of Jesus. While 'Jesuit science"-to use the convenient if problematic shorthand - never figured prominently in the historiography of the Scientific Revolution (except perhaps as the Aristotelian foil against which to contrast the brilliance of the "new science"), the enormous scholarly attention given the heroic figures (Copernicus, et al.) has brought to light a number of Jesuits who (from this perspective) played mildly interesting, if unenviable, ancillary roles in a number of great moments in that grand story. Jesuits, for example, ex- changed friendly correspondence with Kepler and helped him publish his Harmonice Mundi, though they opposed (or were made to oppose) the fundamentals of his new astronomy. If they helped confirm Galileo's telescopic observations, they also disagreed vig- orously with his interpretation of sunspots, comets,
Early Science and Medicine – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1996
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