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6 A Last Word

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Chapter Summary

This chapter serves as a guiding topic to retake two argumentative threads that cut across our history: the relation of Jesuit science as practiced in historical Paraguay and Rio de la Plata to the missionary goals of the Society of Jesus and its articulation with native lore on nature. The Jesuit writers' exaltation of experience as criterion of epistemological warrant was congruent with a philosophy based on Aristotle, who placed empeiria the ultimate source of all knowledge. Experience and ocular inspection were used to legitimatize the epistemological authority of the Jesuit author and unmask the claims of the enlightened philosophers about the inferiority of the New World as groundless theories. The articulation between pure scientific and apostolic service in an individual Jesuit is difficult to fathom. The rich and vital Jesuit tradition of research into nature was an integral part of broader historical experience of the missions in historical Paraguay.

Keywords: historical Paraguay; Jesuit science; Society of Jesus



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