Catholic Censorship of Modern Science and Natural Philosophy in the Documents of the Holy Office and Index for Forbidden Books - Dr Leen Spruit
Until recently, historical research on the censorial interventions regarding science and natural philosophy by Roman ecclesiastical bodies of doctrinal control focused for the most part on individual cases, such as those of Giordano Bruno and Galileo Galilei. Accordingly, most studies concentrated on the ‘victims’ of ecclesiastical censorship, rather than on the institutional aspects of the latter. The opening the Roman Archives of the Inquisition and the Index in 1998 permits a more detailed and articulated picture. In my talk I will pay attention to doctrinal and juridical aspects: definition of heresy and heterodoxy, censorship of suspect books (valuation and correction), and in particular the broader views and criteria underlying the ecclesiastical assessment of science and natural philosophy. Analyzing two illustrative cases, heliocentrism (1543-1633) and atomism (1624-1676), I attempt to summarize some effects of censorship.
LEEN SPRUIT (Krimpen aan den IJssel, 1954) studied theology and philosophy at the University of Amsterdam, where he received his PhD (1987); he was research fellow at the Universities of Amsterdam and Utrecht (1985-92) and is now associate researcher at the center for the History of Philosophy and Science (Radboud University Nijmegen), and lecturer of Dutch language and literature at the Sapienza University in Rome; his research interests regard history of cognitive psychology and censorship of science and natural philosophy in the early modern period; publications include Il problema della conoscenza in Giordano Bruno (Naples: Bibliopolis, 1988) and Species intelligibilis. From Perception to Knowledge (Leiden: Brill, 1994-1995); Catholic Church and Modern Science. Documents from the Roman Archives of the Holy Office and the Index, vol. I: The Sixteenth Century, 4 tomes, Rome: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2009 (with Ugo Baldini); editor of Agostino Nifo’s De intellectu (Leiden: Brill, 2011); in 2010 he discovered the only surviving manuscript of Spinoza’s Ethics in the Vatican Library (Leiden: Brill, 2011 with P. Totaro).