INSTITUTO DE INVESTIGACIONES EN HUMANIDADES Y CIENCIAS SOCIALES
Unidad Ejecutora - UE
Lo deseable y lo posible. La visión y representación de China en la obra de José de Acosta
HOSNE, ANA CAROLINA
Archivum Historicum Societatis Iesu
Roma : Institutum Scriptorum de Historia S. I.
Lugar: Roma ; Año: 2012
This article examines the particular place of China in José de Acostas works. It takes as a starting point its mention in the Proemio of his first work, De Procuranda Indorum Salute (1588), in which the naciones de bárbaros are classified into three groups. In this work Acosta highlights the experience of the Society of Jesus in the Indias Orientales - East Indies - where, in his opinion, evangelization had been possible without coercive methods. Some years later, consequent to a controversial event that took place within the Society, Acosta shows China in the foreground of his writings. It played a leading role in two memorials he wrote in 1587 to refute the Jesuit Alonso Sánchezs proposal of a military conquest of the Ming Empire. In a first section we analyze Acostas vision of China in these memorials against Sánchez, in line with many of the arguments stated in De Procuranda. In turn, as it was Sánchez who provided Acosta with information about the Jesuit mission in China, at that time in the hands of Michele Ruggieri and Matteo Ricci, we also focus on this circulation of information as an essential aspect of Jesuit geopolitics closely related with the missionary expansion of the Society. In the second section we analyze the relationship between Sánchez and the two Italian Jesuits, tracing the information that could have reached Acosta through Sánchez and to the latter via Ruggieri and, above all, Matteo Ricci. We highlight that his view of the Confucian literati as non-idolatrous gentiles, just as Ricci defined them, is present in Acostas Historia Natural y Moral de las Indias (1590), as a final destination of his vision and representation of China. Interpretations about China are now grounded on and enriched by the experience of the Society of Jesus in their own missions and the circulation and production of knowledge in these spaces. However, as we aim to prove, there is a characteristic constantly present in Acostas works, and that is the distinctive and prominent role played by China among the varied and expansive Jesuit missions.