HPS Colloquium. Ann Blair - "Natural Theology in early modern Catholicism--the case of the Jansenist Antoine Pluche"

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Location: 102 DEBARTOLO

This talk is part of the HPS Colloquium Series.

Ann Blair, HPS speakers, HPS colloquium

Ann Blair, Harvard College Professor, Henry Charles Lea Professor of History

Natural Theology in early modern Catholicism--the case of the Jansenist Antoine Pluche

Abstract

Natural theology or the argument from nature to the existence of God (including the argument from design) is most often associated with Protestant contexts, where it is generally considered to have played an essential role in the development of science on the one hand and in the trend toward the rationalization of religion on the other. But natural theological arguments are wonderfully versatile and widespread. As part of a study of Catholic natural theology in France I will focus in this talk on a peculiar form of argument from design in which the mysteries of nature are emphasized as evidence of the greatness of God precisely they are beyond human understanding. This non-rationalist form of natural theological argument is not unique to Catholic thinkers, but reached an especially wide audience in one of the most widely owned books of the 18th century, the Spectacle de la Nature of the Jansenist abbé Antoine Pluche (1688-1761)

Ann Blair specialize in the cultural and intellectual history of early modern Europe (16th-17th centuries), with an emphasis on France. My interests include the history of the book and of education, the history of the disciplines and of scholarship, early modern natural philosophy and its interactions with religion.


Meet Ann Blair through her webpage at Harvard university: http://history.fas.harvard.edu/people/faculty/blair.php