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date: 21 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter considers Jesuit natural history in the period of the Old Society (from Renaissance to Enlightenment). Five topics have been selected for discussion: a general, formal characterization of Jesuit writing on nature, with emphasis on works produced in the missions; the symbolic and material exchanges presupposed by the practice of missionary natural history, including medical botany (exchange of knowledge between Jesuits and native experts, interchange of information between Jesuits and learned naturalists in Europe and among them, circulation of biological species); the approach to marvels in the animal world by the kind of natural philosophy embedded in the works of Athnasius Kircher, Caspar Schott, and Juan Eusebio Nieremberg; the issues raised by the natural histories of the New World, in particular in Iberian America; and the response of the Jesuits to the ascent of Enlightened natural history as represented by Carl Linnaeus and George Louis Leclerc, Compte de Buffon.

Keywords: natural history, Jesuit science, Jesuit missions, medical botany, Baroque science, Linnaeus, Buffon

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