The Decline of Magic : Britain in the Enlightenment / Michael Hunter.
- New Haven, CT : Yale University Press, 
1 online resource (288 pages)
- Enlightenment -- Great Britain.
Faith and reason -- History.
Occultism -- Great Britain -- History -- 17th century.
Occultism -- Great Britain -- History -- 18th century.
Science and magic -- History.
Spiritualism -- Great Britain -- History -- 17th century.
Spiritualism -- Great Britain -- History -- 18th century.
- In English.
- System Details:
- Mode of access: Internet via World Wide Web.
text file PDF
- A new history which overturns the received wisdom that science displaced magic in Enlightenment Britain In early modern Britain, belief in prophecies, omens, ghosts, apparitions and fairies was commonplace. Among both educated and ordinary people the absolute existence of a spiritual world was taken for granted. Yet in the eighteenth century such certainties were swept away. Credit for this great change is usually given to science - and in particular to the scientists of the Royal Society. But is this justified? Michael Hunter argues that those pioneering the change in attitude were not scientists but freethinkers. While some scientists defended the reality of supernatural phenomena, these sceptical humanists drew on ancient authors to mount a critique both of orthodox religion and, by extension, of magic and other forms of superstition. Even if the religious heterodoxy of such men tarnished their reputation and postponed the general acceptance of anti-magical views, slowly change did come about. When it did, this owed less to the testing of magic than to the growth of confidence in a stable world in which magic no longer had a place.
List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
Introduction. The Supernatural, Science and 'Atheism'
1. John Wagstaffe, Witchcraft and the Nature of Restoration Free- thought
2. From the Deists to Francis Hutchinson
3. The Ambivalence of the Early Royal Society
4. The 'Drummer of Tedworth': Conflicting Interpretations and the Problem of Fraud
5. The Enlightenment Rejection of Magic: Mid- century Scepticism and its Milieu
6. Second Sight in Scotland: Boyle's Legacy and its Transformation
Conclusion. The 'Decline of Magic' Reconsidered
Appendix I. The 'Drummer of Tedworth': A Note on Sources
Appendix II. Joshua Walker's Paper on Second Sight
- Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page (publisher's Web site, viewed 06. Apr 2020)
- De Gruyter.
- Contained In:
- De Gruyter University Press Library.
- Publisher Number:
- 10.12987/9780300249460 doi
- Access Restriction:
- Restricted for use by site license.
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