in Secret Science

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2009 | ISBN: 9780226675343
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226675374 | DOI:

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This chapter summarizes the preceding discussions and presents some final thoughts from the author. This study of the Spanish royal cosmographers challenges the conclusions of recent studies of patronage and science. Historical work in this area is inclined to associate the emergence of the court philosopher during this time with a gradual weakening of Aristotelian natural philosophy because it allowed scientific practitioners to operate in a court context and outside the restrictive scholasticism of the universities. Yet for Spanish cosmographers working as bureaucrats in an institutional environment, their source of patronage did not produce any challenges to the philosophical underpinnings of Aristotelianism. The institutionalization of cosmographical practice instead produced a focused effort to develop aspects of the discipline that promised solutions to the pressing problem of an expanding empire. The material presented suggests that it was the exigencies of empire and its associated utilitarian demands that steered Spanish royal cosmographers away from speculative natural philosophy, by rewarding work which represented nature as an inventory of the real, visible, and tangible world.

Keywords: Spain; cosmographers; cosmography; Aristotelianism; natural philosophy

Chapter.  3084 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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