San Ildefonso College, San Ildefonso Street, Mexico City
the University of Mexico, where Alzate studied theology and received a Bachelor of divinity degree.
Alzate attended San Ildefonso College and graduated in 1753 with a bachelor of arts degree. In 1756, he received a bachelor of divinity degree from the University of Mexico, and was subsequently ordained as a Roman Catholic priest.
An enthusiastic naturalist and man of letters, Alzate was a member of the Sociedad Económica Vascongada, the Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid, and the Académie Royale des Sciences de Paris. He struggled to contradict the European opinions regarding the inferiority of American scientific knowledge. When Charles III of Spain sent a botanical expedition to New Spain, Alzate touched off a lengthy controversy by defending the advanced botanical knowledge of the ancient Mexicans and criticizing the Spaniards’ application of Linnaean methods and principles.
Through the abbot Chappe, Alzate was in contact with the Academy of Sciences in Paris and he became their correspondent for the natural history of the area. Alzate sent them a number of specimens, including plants, fish, spiders and butterflies and his letters informed them of the local landscape, geography, diseases and the work of his fellow naturalists. In 1768 he founded the seminal publication El Diario Literario de México, and later also began the Gazeta de Literatura de México which was published between 1787 and 1795. He also created a short lived publication on various scientific and arts issues. On the basis of these journals, all of which were designed to improve the country’s welfare through technology, Alzate is considered to be one of the pioneers of scientific journalism in the western hemisphere.
As a result of his continuous efforts to promote the scientific advancement of his countrymen and his successful fight to abolish the scholastic systems used in the colonial institutions, Alzate is regarded as one of the forerunners of Mexican independence. In 1884, the Sociedad Científica Antonio Alzate (now known as the Academia Nacional de Ciencias) was founded in Mexico City.
He died in Mexico City in 1799.
In his religious affiliation Alzate y Ramírez was a Roman Catholic. After receiving a bachelor of divinity degree from the University of Mexico, he was subsequently ordained as a Presbyterian priest.
Alzate embraced the ideas of the Enlightenment and devoted his life to the study of all branches of natural science. On various occasions, he was commissioned by the colonial government to solve problems affecting the public interest. His principal aim was to transcend the Aristotelian philosophy of his day and to promote the development of technology in New Spain. The value of his scientific production was not consistent, however, for his work covered a great many fields and was often conducted in an unfavorable atmosphere.
Alzate was a member of the Sociedad Económica Vascongada.
Alzate`s personality had an enthusiastic but rather aggressive nature. Alzate was continually involved in scientific polemics, and his sarcasm aroused the animosity of his colleagues.