Tyler is reading *The Jesuits: A History*:
Here is one passage that for obvious reasons caught his eye:
The Jesuits invested the lion’s share of their bureaucratic efforts in personnel planning. We have already encountered the Society’s obsession with the quality, education, and development of its members several times — this passion was translated into bureaucratic procedures to an astounding degree. Every Jesuit’s mental, spiritual, intellectual, and physical capacity was routinely evaluated. The Society devised elaborate procedures for conducting such examinations. Even the wording of these assessments was prescribed. A kind of grading system with standard content was devised that was then used to answer about a dozen questions from each member. Every three years, local and provincial superiors were required to prepare interviews of the staff under their authority, whom they were required to assess in table form. These catalogues have justly been celebrated as an outstanding example of the bureaucratization of the modern period.
The 17th and 18th century Jesuits seem like a miracle of human capital formation.
Last year I read three books on the Jesuits for quite similar reasons. My thought was how did such a small organization create a culture of excellence that pushed the bounds of science, sociology, and politics so well (or did it? Maybe Jesuit mythos and reality are quite separate?), and what mistakes caused it to be suppressed?
The bureaucratic excellence might be one such reason. I am almost disturbed by the level of obedience these men had to superiors. The intense cultivation of ability combined with the “state capacity” to aim member’s abilities towards all manner of problems. That combination does seem frightening to anyone without such organizational competence. Don’t compete with this superhuman foe, the king and lords of Spain thought, shoot for suppression.
How much internal dissension was there? How was it dealt with? What were the most politically unwise or impolitic moves the Jesuits made in the 18th century? Who were the Jesuits enemies and why? How can we compare Jesuit accomplishments to the secular accomplishments of the day? What was the Jesuit role in the wars between the enlightenment secularism and the Catholic Church? Which Jesuits engaged with John Locke or Montesquieu?
I am not satisfied with any of the answers I have found, though I now know a fair deal more about Jesuit education. I need more nuts and bolts of Jesuit organization in the 17th – 18th century. I lust for more details.
Jesuits: a Multibiography (1997)
St. Ignatius’ Idea of a Jesuit University (1957)
Jesuit Education in Light of Modern Educational Problems (1904)