Occult Scientific Mentalities

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The essays in this volume present a collective study of one of the major problems in the recent history of science: To what extent did the occult 'sciences' (alchemy, astrology, numerology, and natural magic) contribute to the scientific revolution of the late Renaissance? These studies of major scientists (Kepler, Bacon, Mersenne, and Newton) and of occultists (Dee, Fludd, and Cardano), complemented by analyses of contemporary official and unofficial studies at Cambridge and Oxford and discussions of the language of science, combine to suggest that hitherto the relationship has been too crudely stated as a movement 'from magic to science'. In fact, two separate mentalities can be traced, the occult and the scientific, each having different assumptions, goals, and methodologies. The contributors call into question many of the received ideas on this topic, showing that the issue has been wrongly defined and based on inadequate historical evidence. They outline new ways of approaching and understanding a situation in which two radically different and, to modern eyes, incompatible ways of describing reality persisted side-by-side until the demise of the occult in the late seventeenth century. Their work, accordingly, sets the whole issue in a new light.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'The essays are stimulating and provocative … this excellent book.' Brian Easlea, American Historical Review

'The collection provides a valuable introduction to the state of the problem as well as to the work which remains to be done.' Katharine Park, Journal for the History of Astronomy

'A collection of papers which are often intelligent, well-written and admirably clear, and which are nearly always immensely stimulating.' Alastair Hamilton, The Heythrop Journal

'Le présent volume nous présente les actes d'une colloque, édités avec le plus grand soin. Chacune des contributions est une étude approfondie, rédigée par un spécialiste d'une incontestable compétence, et apportant des vues novatrices, à partir d'un retour au texte ou aux sources manuscrites. Alors même que les conclusions des auteurs ne sont pas toujours concordantes, le volume offre un modèle de ce que peut accomplir un travail collectif. Questions bien posées, colloque sans temps morts, travaux qui se complètent, excellente présentation synthétique (par Brian Vickers): le cas est assez rare pour qu'il vaille la peine d'être salué. C'est un livre important qui nous est offert, et dont la lecture s'impose à tous ceux qui étudient le premier essor de la pensée scientifique aux XVIe et XVIIe siècles.' Jean Starobinski, Gesnerus. Swiss Journal of the History of Medicine

'This stimulating and scholarly collection of essays … will be of interest not only to students of the history of science but also to all who have occasion to reflect on the nature of history itself.' British Book News

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521338363
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 6/27/1986
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 424
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Table of Contents

Editor's preface; Introduction Brian Vickers; 1. At the crossroads of magic and science: John Dee's Archemastrie Nicholas H. Clulee; 2. The occult tradition in the English universities of the Renaissance: a reassessment Mordechai Feingold; 3. Analogy versus identity: the rejection of occult symbolism, 1580–1680 Brian Vickers; 4. Marin Mersenne: Renaissance naturalism and Renaissance magic William L. Hine; 5. Nature, art, and psyche: Jung, Pauli, and the Kepler–Fludd polemic Robert S. Westman; 6. The interpretation of natural signs: Cardano's De subtilitate versus Scaliger's Exercitationes Ian Maclean; 7. Kepler's attitude toward astrology and mysticism Edward Rosen; 8. Kepler's rejection of numerology Judith V. Field; 9. Francis Bacon's biological ideas: a new manuscript source Graham Rees; 10. Newton and alchemy Richard S. Westfall; 11. Witchcraft and popular mentality in Lorraine, 1580–1630 Robin Briggs; 12. The scientific status of demonology Stuart Clark; 13. 'Reason,' 'right reason,' and 'revelation' in mid-seventeenth-century England Lotte Mulligan; Index.

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