Brazilian Culture: An Introduction to the Study of Culture in Brazil

By Fernando de Azevedo; William Rex Crawford | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOUR
SCIENCE

The Dutch period -- The retinue of Maurice of Nassau -- The first foreign explorers -- The colony and the home country -- The darkness into which the home country plunged colonial Brazil -- The installation of the Portuguese court in Brazil -- Dom Joāo VI and the first schools and institutions of science -- The National Museum -- Studies of botany and zoology -- The journeys of foreign naturalists through the interior of Brazil -- Geology -- The paleontological research of Dr. Lundin Lagoa Santa -- The physical sciences -- From Bartolomeu de Gusmāo to Santos Dumont -- The National Observatory -- The scant interest of the Brazilian in physical sciences-Dom Pedro II and the sciences -- The School of Mines -- Mathematics and its principal cultivator-Gomes de Sousa -- Museums and libraries -- The National Library -- Nina Rodrigues and legal medicine -- Osvaldo Cruz and the center of research at Manguinhos -- Geography and history -- The Historical Institutes -- The scientific spirit enters historic and geographic studies -- The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics -- Foreign cultural missions -- The social sciences -- Sociology and ethnology in Brazil -- Science and philosophy -- Positivism -- The philosophy of Farias Brito

IN AN EXTREMELY BRIEF SUMMARY, through thirty crowded pages, we have watched the development of our literary history, its first manifestations in the colonial period, following the model of the Portuguese, although at times there is evidence of American thought; the lively flowering, unequal and without order during the nineteenth century, the more disciplined, rich, and fruitful production of the twentieth century. What immediately attracts our attention in the history of Brazilian literature is not only the continuity of the literary movement, through three centuries, the growing variety of talents of the first class in each one of these periods, but the vitality and strength with which the originality of our national literature asserts itself progressively in the different phases of its evolution, and especially beginning with the romantic movement. In no other activity of the mind has the intelligence of Brazil expanded with so much vigor, nor manifested so great a power of invention. We may even consider literature as the most characteristic Brazilian product, the least contestable witness of originality on the part of the national spirit. If we compare, however, the progress in this domain of activity with that of the sciences, what strikes us in this contrast, established even in the most summary analysis, is the disconcerting impression of the disproportion between literary progress and scientific development which, in a rigorous sense, began to take place only in the nineteenth century, and then with its attention turned only to the realm of the natural sciences and with extreme slowness. This preponderance of the literary spirit over the scientific spirit has been so marked and so persistent in the whole history of our culture that there have not been lacking critics who have attributed it, after a superficial examination, to a particular form of the mind related to ethnic

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