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An Ethical Transition from Sight to Touch in the 16th and 17th Centuries
"Conversion" is a basic religious concept, which has manifold implications for our everyday lives. Ran Tene's Changes in Ethical Worldviews of Spanish Missionaries in Mexico utilizes a cross-disciplinary methodology in which the fields of Philosophy, History, and Literary Studies are drawn upon to analyze conversion. He focuses on two moments in Spanish writing about Mexican missions, the early to mid-sixteenth century writings of the Spanish missionaries to Mexico and the early seventeenth century manuscripts of the author/copyist Fray Juan de Torquemada. The analysis exposes changes in worldviews - including the concepts of identity, ownership, and cruelty - through missionary eyes. It suggests two theoretical models - the vision model and the model of touch - to describe these changes, which are manifested in the missionary project and in the texts that it (re)produced.