Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


The Introduction of Modern Natural Philosophy to Portugal during the 18th century


Philosophy Department


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



Social and Behavioral Sciences


My paper concerns the role played by Portuguese Jesuits, Oratorians, Franciscans, and Jewsih intellectuals in the introduction of modern philosophy (especially Newtonian mathematical physics and experimental science in general) to Portugal during the 18th century. It addresses the wors of seven men from the Republic of Letters, whose efforts on behalf of modern science embodied the transitional period in-between the Medieval Neo-Aristotelian worldview and the mechanical worldview in Portugal: Jesuits Manuel de Campos and Inacio Monteiro, Oratorians Luis Antonio Verney and Teodoro de Almeida, Jewish physicians Jacob de Castro Sarmento and Antonio Ribeiro Sanches, and Franciscan Manuel do Cenaculo Villas-Boas. As it happened with philosopers in other European countries, some of these men embraced modern science unreservedly, while others preferred, at least rethorically, 'eclectic' philosophy, i.e., e a blend of metaphysciak scholasticism and modern experiementalism.To offer an account of how these men facilitated the shift to what Thomas Kuhn called a new scientific paradigm, I outline the substance of their work; the conflicts which they had with the political, institutional order of the reigns of King Joao V and King Jose I wih respect to the role of the religious Orders in the secularization of knowledge; the rhetoric that they used to make the case for the epistemological superiority of modern science vis-a-vis scholasticism. Finally, I refer to the 1772 reform of the University of Coimbra and its protracted consequnces for the scientific modernization of Portugal

Conference Name

International Conference of the British Society for the History of Philosophy

Conference Location

York, United Kingdom

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