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Science as a Calling? The Early Modern Dilemma

  • Mordechai Feingold



Notwithstanding the preponderance of clerics among early modern scientific practitioners, only scant attention has been paid to the ramifications of their “calling” on their ability to engage freely in scientific studies. Indeed, the overall failure to calibrate the compatibility between full-fledged secular studies and a clerical vocation has led to misconceptions concerning the nature of the participation of ordained men in early modern science. It is not simply that ministerial duties imposed considerable demands on their time and energy; more significantly, the essence of this vocation was such as to impinge fundamentally on their ability to dedicate themselves to science or, most important of all, on their willingness to acknowledge publicly their contribution. A focus on the inner tensions that plagued practitioners in holy orders during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries will both highlight the insurmountable challenges posed by the specialized and secularized nature of the “new science” on clerics – irrespective of denomination – and explain their eventual marginalization in the scientific endeavor.


Science as a Calling? The Early Modern Dilemma

  • Mordechai Feingold


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