Temporarily out of stock
Title: Decline of Magic,The: Britain in the Enlightenment
Author: HUNTER MICHAEL
Publication date: 15/12/2019
Imprint: YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS
Publishing status: Active
A provocative account of the seismic shift in attitude to the supernatural in seventeenth and eighteenth century Britain
Throughout the early modern period in Britain, both elite and popular culture embraced many forms of the supernatural and the absolute existence of a spiritual world was taken for granted. Over the next century, not long after the Reformation, certainties which could be traced back over millennia were swept away.
In this ground breaking account, Michael Hunter argues that, rather than scientists of the Royal Society leading the way, the real pioneers in rationality and scepticism relative to magic were humanists and free-thinkers. However, their consistent scepticism about religion meant that their views were often dismissed. Hunter looks at just how resilient superstition proved to be and sheds light on the surprising ways in which attitudes to second sight – the uncanny ability of certain individuals to foresee future events – evolved during the long eighteenth century. Magic, Hunter reveals, was never properly tested in the Enlightenment. Instead, it was merely rejected by devotees as much of classical antiquity as of science.