( Completed: 5.2013)
Knowledge and Belief in Early Modern Science
Other involved scholars: Rivka Feldhay ; Michael Elazar
The development of early modern practical and theoretical mechanics was also shaped by religious constraints. In the framework of collaboration supported by the German- Israeli Foundation, it is being investigated how such constraints left their mark on the large-scale structures of scientific development. This will add a further dimension to the understanding of the evolution of mechanics in the 17th century and enrich the account of the Scientific Revolution. It has been claimed in the past for instance that due to dogmatic constraints the Jesuits did not essentially contribute to the development of the new mechanics in the 17th century. Against this view the study has been able to show that Jesuits did make substantial contributions to the emergence of classical mechanics. The Jesuits, for example, more than anyone else took on the role of providing a growing body of students with new knowledge in astronomy and the science of motion and machines, and some even with a highly advanced level of physico-mathematical knowledge. Although Jesuit physicomathematicians were constrained by the Society’s pro-Aristotelian and anti-novelty programmatic position, their teachings had unintended consequences that contributed to the dissolution of the Aristotelian worldview, as has been shown in a comprehensive survey (Rivka Feldhay).
In addition, it was shown how Jesuit teaching was interwoven with practices of transmission of scientific knowledge that concerned wider audiences among the urban elites of early modern Europe. A special case study has addressed the theory of motion of the Jesuit scientist Honoré Fabri and its relation to the Eucharist doctrine (Michael Elazar).