Letters written by early modern missionaries played an important role in the development of global intellectual networks and inquiry into religion, language, cartography, and science. But the historical ethnography of law has not recognized the role that Jesuits played in creating the field of comparative law. This article examines the writings on law in India by the French Jesuit Jean-Venant Bouchet, who was an important source for Enlightenment philosophes and later Orientalists. It considers Bouchet’s systemic accounts of Indian law alongside his more ethnographic description of his legal encounters in South India, and argues that the practice of conversion and experiences in local legal fora determined and shaped Bouchet’s interpretation of Indian law. In other words, legal scholarship was produced in spiritual, religious, and political contexts, and cannot be abstracted from them.
Legal Orientalism and French Jesuit Knowledge Production in India
Humanists, Clashing Cartesians, Jesuits, and the New Physiology
Jeffrey D. Burson
During the sixteenth century, Jesuit renovations of medieval Aristotelian conceptions of the soul afforded an important discursive field for René Descartes to craft a notion of the soul as a substance distinct from the body and defined by thought. Cartesianism, however, augmented rather than diminished the skeptical crisis over the soul and the mind–body union. This article explores the work of a Jesuit intellectual, René-Joseph Tournemine, whose attempt to navigate between Malebranche’s Cartesianism and the metaphysics of Leibniz proved influential during the eighteenth century in ways that intersect with the development of Enlightenment biological science. Tournemine’s theologically motivated conjectures about the nature of the mind–body union reinforced an important shift away from considering the soul as a metaphysical substance in favor of seeing it as a pervasive motive force or vital principle animating the human organism.
Negotiating the Gaze in the Travel Writings of Anthony Munday and Thomas Dallam
In “eyewitness” accounts of the Mediterranean by Anthony Munday and Thomas Dallam, assertions of allegiance to Elizabethan England are destabilized by the physicality of “looking.” Early modern theories of vision and post-Reformation constructions of the viewed contributed to conceptualizations of objectified spectacle as a source of physical threat to the viewer. This article explores Munday's and Dallam's negotiations of the physicality of visual experiences as the authors participate in interactive modes of viewing demanded by the rituals and ceremonies of strangers. Witnessing a Jesuit whipping himself before devotional objects at the English college in Rome in 1578, Munday's emphasis on his physical difference to the Jesuit reproduces the idolatrous interaction with the viewed that this author critiques. Describing his presentation of a mechanical organ to the Sultan Mehmed III in Constantinople in 1599, Dallam's spectatorship is distorted as he becomes a functional part of the ceremonial display of this instrument.
An Overdue Tribute
Dale K. Van Kley
Robert R. Palmer wrote his first book, Catholics and Unbelievers in Eighteenth Century France, under the influence of his mentor at Cornell University, Carl L. Becker. Whereas Becker had claimed that the "enlightened" French philosophes were more indebted to Christianity than they recognized, Palmer argued that French Catholic apologists in the eighteenth century were also more "enlightened" than they knew. The two theses are complementary sides of Becker's wider point that beneath an intellectual debate in the public sphere there lay certain shared assumptions that make discussion possible, or what Alfred Whitehead had called a common "climate of opinion." Devoted to the subsequent historiography of Palmer's subject, this article argues that although research has since vindicated aspects of Palmer's portrait of French "enlightened" Jesuits, it has also altered Palmer's picture of French Jansenists as being globally unenlightened. This development in historiography enlarges Palmer's own notion of a "climate of opinion," while challenging the coherence of recent notions of a single "Catholic Enlightenment."
A persistent feature in Jesuit reports about the late Ming and early Qing was the notion that an enduring peace and concord pervaded the Chinese political system. Although the Jesuits did not invent this association, which was rooted in Greco-Roman historiography, the Jesuit encyclopaedist Antonio Possevino (1533–1611) was the first to link the ‘perpetual peace’ (perpetua pax) and ‘supreme concord’ (summa concordia) of the Chinese state to the Confucian intellectual tradition. As the Jesuits’ missionary strategy developed under the tutelage of Matteo Ricci (1552–1610), ‘public peace’ (pax publica) and ‘the calm of the Republic’ (Republica quies) came to be perceived as the ultimate purpose of the Confucian precepts and one of the hinges on which the aims of Christianity, Confucianism and natural law can be reconciled. The supreme expression of the link between Confucianism and peace can be found in the Confucius Sinarum philosophus (1687), which presented for the first time an accessible translation of three of the four Confucian classics. Yet while retaining the view that pre-Qin Confucianism espoused peace as a central political aim, the Confucius Sinarum philosophus challenged the view that contemporary China could be regarded as a utopic actualization of Confucian peace. This paper will discuss this shift as an attempt to coopt the Chinese political experience as an argument against the pragmatic political philosophy known as ‘reason of state’, which was perceived by Jesuit thinkers as atheistic and immoral.
The Jesuits as Cultural Mediators in Early Modern Europe
Though religious matters have long been part of Shakespeare criticism, they have not been the most popular ones on this agenda for a long time. In the last two decades, however, the question of Shakespeare’s personal religious belief has been re-introduced to the scene of early modern studies and vividly discussed by Shakespeare scholars all over the world. The topic has thus proved to be much more than a wave of fashion in Shakespeare studies and certainly deserves further critical investigation. For matters of space this essay must be restricted to one of the numerous questions that concern the field, i.e., the cultural and political impact which the early Jesuit mission, and here the Provincia Germaniae Superioris, had on William Shakespeare, his contemporaries, and the theatre of his time.
Jeffrey D. Burson
This article considers the methodology of entangled history and its potential for nuancing or circumventing scholarly controversies over the nature and extent of the Enlightenment in eighteenth-century religious thought. After sketching the development of entangled history theory and its potential applicability to studying the Enlightenment, the rest of the article provides a case study of one way in which the insights discussed in the first parts of the article can be applied to current controversies about how historians construct the concept of Enlightenment. As will be shown, the transdiscursive entanglement of Jesuit missionary output with the debates between Voltaire and Bergier illustrates the mutability and rhetorical malleability of historical paradigms concerning the Enlightenment and religion.
William Shakespeare, Nicholas Owen, and the Culture of Doppelbödigkeit
This article ties in with the recent interest in Shakespeare's biography and early modern religious discourses. In the following I will try to synthesise two seemingly disparate fields, respectively personalities: I will combine William Shakespeare and his literary work and Nicholas Owen, the master-builder of Jesuit priest holes of the time. As I will propose, the tertium comparationis could be the culture of Doppelbödigkeit, and according to my knowledge this topic has not been pursued to date. What I will not do in this article in the context of Shakespeare's biography, however, is to trace further possible Catholic influences on him, 2 nor maintain that he was a Catholic.
Layers of Representation in an Early Travelogue on the West (Xihai jiyou cao, 1849)
The long and complex history of China’s discovery of the West is marked by a high resistance of the ‘public mind’ against the penetration not only of ideas from the West, but also of ideas and news about the West.1 At least since the first Jesuits came to the Chinese court, a good deal of information about the West has been made available, but within the broad and tightly knit network of information channels, it seems to have been digested into virtual obliteration.
Michel de Certeau
After a certain time-lag, the Jesuit Michel de Certeau (1925-86) has come to be recognized as one of the most creative cultural theorists of the late twentieth century, in the same class as his more celebrated contemporaries Pierre Bourdieu and Michel Foucault. The secondary literature on Certeau is increasing at a remarkable rate. A Certeau reader was published in 2000 and an intellectual biography in 2002.2 A remarkable polymath, Certeau practised at least nine disciplines (history, theology, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, linguistics, literature, geography and psychoanalysis), and he has been discussed from many points of view. All the same, as this article will attempt to show, one of the various contexts in which his thought developed has been relatively neglected