From medieval tutiorism to modern probabilism: "Spoils of Egypt" and the making of the Jesuit conscience from Loyola to Pascal

Robert A Maryks, Fordham University

Abstract

The dissertation traces a crucial transformation of the early modern Jesuit (and European) approach to conscience. This revolution involved the confrontation between two divergent ethical rules employed by a person confronting a doubtful moral issue: the medieval rule that one should for safety's sake follow the law rather than the choice of his or her conscience (Tutiorism) and the modern rule that one should embrace the moral freedom of a conscience to follow even the less plausible of two probable opinions (Probabilism). Although this liberalization originated as a practical way to alleviate the dubious conscience of medieval penitents in the context of sacramental confession, Probabilism profoundly affected the early modern prince, lawyer, physician, merchant and scholar in the daily performance of their civil duties. To analyze this crucial transition, I have compiled the first exhaustive census of nearly 800 titles on sacramental confession by early modern Jesuits. The dissertation also focuses on a document in which the interaction of casuistry with the 'spoils of Egypt'---a biblical expression used in the Jesuit Constitutions to indicate classical pagan literature---can be traced: the codification of Jesuit pedagogy known as Ratio Studiorum (1599). A comparison of the three superseded versions of the Ratio clearly suggests how systematic contact with Greco-Roman literature, and especially with Ciceronian rhetoric, may have influenced the Jesuit conscience to abandon Tutiorism and espouse Probabilism. ^

Subject Area

Religion, History of|History, European|History, Modern

Recommended Citation

Robert A Maryks, "From medieval tutiorism to modern probabilism: "Spoils of Egypt" and the making of the Jesuit conscience from Loyola to Pascal" (January 1, 2006). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI3201133.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3201133

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