Kircher, Athanasius

▪ German Jesuit priest and scholar
born May 2, 1601, Geisa, Abbacy of Fulda [Thuringia]
died Nov. 27, 1680, Rome

      Jesuit priest and scholar, sometimes called the last Renaissance man, important for his prodigious activity in disseminating knowledge.

      Kircher learned Greek and Hebrew at the Jesuit school in Fulda, pursued scientific and humanistic studies at Paderborn, Cologne, and Koblenz, and in 1628 was ordained at Mainz. He fled the increasing factional and dynastic fighting in Germany (part of the Thirty Years' War) and, after occupying various academic positions at Avignon, settled in 1634 in Rome. There he remained for most of his life, functioning as a kind of one-man intellectual clearinghouse for cultural and scientific information gleaned not only from European sources but also from the far-flung network of Jesuit missionaries.

      Kircher's research encompassed a variety of disciplines including geography, astronomy, mathematics, language, medicine, and music, bringing to each a rigorous scientific curiosity girded in a mystical conception of natural laws and forces. His methods ranged from the traditionally scholastic to the boldly experimental—he once had himself lowered into the crater of Vesuvius to observe its features soon after an eruption.

      Kircher is not now considered to have made any significant original contributions, although a number of discoveries and inventions (e.g., the magic lantern) have sometimes been mistakenly attributed to him. Rather, it is his extensive reporting activity that secures his place in intellectual history. He wrote some 44 books, and over 2,000 of his manuscripts and letters survive. In addition, he assembled one of the first natural history collections, long housed in a museum that bore his name, the Museo Kircheriano at Rome; this legacy was later dispersed among a number of institutions.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Athanasius Kircher — Portrait of Kircher from Mundus Subterraneus, 1664 Born 2 May 1601 or 1602 Geisa, Abbacy of Fulda Died 27 November or 28 November 16 …   Wikipedia

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  • Kircher — Athanasius Kircher Athanasius Kircher (en français: Athanase Kircher) (2 mai 1601, Geisa, en Thuringe, près de Fulda, Allemagne, 27 novembre 1680, Rome, Italie) est un jésuite allemand, graphologue, orientaliste, esprit… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Athanasius Kircher —     Athanasius Kircher     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Athanasius Kircher     Celebrated for the versatility of his knowledge and particularly distinguished for his knowledge of the natural sciences, b. 2 May, 1601, at Geisa, a small town on the… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Kircher — Kircher, Athanasius, Gelehrter, geb. 2. Mai 1601 zu Geisa im Fuldaischen, gest. 27. Nov. 1680 in Rom, trat 1618 in den Jesuitenorden und erhielt dann eine Professur der Mathematik und Philosophie sowie der hebräischen und syrischen Sprache in… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Kircher — Kircher, Athanasius, geb. 1601 zu Geiß im Fuldaischen, wurde 1618 Jesuit u. Lehrer der Philosophie u. Orientalischen Sprachen in Würzburg, ging 1635 nach Avignon, von da begleitete er den Cardinal Friedrich von Sachsen nach Malta, wurde dann… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Kircher — Kircher, Athanasius, Gelehrter, geb. 2. Mai 1601 zu Geisa bei Fulda, Jesuit, Prof. zu Würzburg, dann am Collegium Romanum zu Rom, gest. das. 27. Nov. 1680, berühmt durch seine archäolog. Werke sowie durch Erfindung des Maltesischen Spiegels… …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Kircher — Kircher, Athanasius, geb. 1602 zu Geiß im Fuldaischen, Jesuite, einer der scharfsinnigsten und gelehrtesten Männer seiner Zeit, in der Naturkunde, Mathematik u. Philologie ausgezeichnet, war Professor der orientalischen Sprachen zu Würzburg,… …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • Athanasius Kircher — Pater Athanasius Kircher (vor 1664) Athanasius Kircher SJ (auch: Athanasius Kircherus Fuldensis; * 2. Mai 1602 in Geisa (Rhön); † 27. November 1680 in Rom) war ein deutscher Jesuit und Universalgelehrter des 17. Jahrhunderts, der die me …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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