Jesuit interest in the natural sciences began in the very early days of the foundation of the Society of Jesus in 1540. This work can be related to the development of Jesuit colleges in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, coinciding with the birth and progress of modern science. From the very beginning, mathematics, astronomy, and natural sciences were important features of their academic programs. Early scientific work of Jesuits and their contribution to the establishment of modern science have recently received considerable attention, for example, in the works of Heilbron (1982), Dear (1987), Wallace (1989), Harris (1989) and Baldini (1992). Steven J. Harris explicitly links Jesuit scientific tradition with the order’s “apostolic spirituality,” using the thesis established by Robert K. Merton on the relation between the development of modern science in seventeenth century England and the Puritan ethos. For Harris the values of apostolic spirituality strongly encouraged an activist mentality among Jesuits, which led to the acceptance of the modern sciences, because they were useful means in fulfilling the goals of the Society’s apostolates in education and mission work. This became in time an established tradition, which has been continued in different ways until our days. We will treat this point later in this chapter to find what there is specifically in Jesuit spirituality, which constitutes the basis of this scientific tradition.


Eighteenth Century Seventeenth Century Spiritual Exercise Father General Modem Society 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Augustín Udías
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Geophysics and MeteorologyUniversidad ComplutenseMadridSpain

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