The Conimbricenses: Some Questions on Signs

The Conimbricenses: Some Questions on Signs

The Conimbricenses: Some Questions on Signs

The Conimbricenses: Some Questions on Signs

Excerpt

The Conimbricenses were late sixteenth and into the early seventeenth century Jesuit philosophy professors at the University of Coimbra. There they taught in the College of Arts, which in October, 1555 King João III of Portugal had placed under the direction of the Society of Jesus. Chief among them were Emmanuel de Goes (1542–1597), Cosmas de Magelhães (1551–1624), Balthasar Alvarez (1561–1630), and Sebastian do Couto (1567–1639). Although not usually numbered among the Conimbricenses, their confrere in the Society, Pedro da Fonseca (1528–1599), had promoted the novel idea of a philosophical cursus authored by the Jesuits of Coimbra.

Fonseca himself, called in his own time the 'Portuguese Aristotle,' was one of the four first Jesuits teaching philosophy at Coimbra in 1555. He was also one of 12 members of the Society selected in 1581 by the Jesuit General, Claude Acquaviva (d. 1615) to elaborate a plan of studies for the Jesuits themselves, the famous “Ratio Studiorum.” A first draft of this Ratio was presented in 1586 and, after comments from the schools of the Society, it was, with changes, adopted officially in 1599. In the meantime, Fonseca had published an introduction to logic plus commentaries on Aristotle's Metaphysics, both of which were excellent but not directly suitable for a philosophical course to implement the Ratio Studiorum. More to that end was the systematic course in philosophy produced by Fonseca's Coimbra colleagues between 1592 and 1606 in the form of eight treatises of commentary on the works of Aristotle.

Used particularly but by no means exclusively in Jesuit colleges, these commentaries had broad influence throughout the seventeenth century in Europe, North and South America, Africa, India, and the Far East, including both Japan and China. In this last connection, the main bibliographer of the Society of Jesus, Carlos Sommervogel, S.J. (1834–1902), cited the seventeenthcentury Jesuit polymath, Athanasius Kircher (1601–1680), to the effect that by his time the Coimbra commentaries had been translated into Chinese. In the notes accompanying the following translation we will mention one of these translations, which was made in the early seventeenth century principally by Francisco Furtado, S.J. (1584–1653) and Li Chih Tsao (1565–1630), who was a Christian convert and friend of the famous Matteo Ricci, S.J. (1552–1610).

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