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Attfield, Robin (1985)
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Languages: English
Types: Article
Subjects: BR, DD, BD, BT, BV, DH, HN, BL, DA, HV, B1
Through a survey of the discussions of the decline of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century witch-craze of Hugh Trevor-Roper, Keith Thomas and Brian Easlea, the role and impact of Balthasar Bekker, a seventeenth-century Dutch Cartesian, is shown to have been under-estimated, and not inconsiderable.
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    • 24. The World Bewitched (London, 1695).
    • 25. The World Turn'd Upside Down(London, 1700).
    • 27. Trevor-Roper here cites G.B. Stoppa, La religion des Hollondois, (Paris, 1673), p.88.
    • 31. Paul Hazard, The European Mind (1680-1715) (London, 1953), p. 175.
    • 32. Trevor-Roper, p 174.
    • 33. The World Bewitched (henceforth WB), preface to Book I, b5.
    • 34. WB, preface to Books II to IV.
    • 35. Cited by Hazard (footnote 31), p. 171.
    • 36. Trevor-Roper, p. 181.
    • 37. WB, preface to Books II to IV. Stuart Clark, in 'The Scientific Status of Demonology' (see note 7), points out that the demonologists believed that demons acted through the laws of nature, and in keeping with their own natures, rather than supernaturally. For this, however, they needed bodies and physical powers; but, as Bekker rightly implied, there was no room for them to have either in a mechanistic universe. Indeed if the new philosophers' belief in universal regularities was correct, then the acts of demons could no longer be understood as supernatural as Scot had maintained (without benefit of mechanism) a century earlier.
    • 38. A.C.Kors and. E.Peters, Witchcraft in Europe, 1100-1700, pp. 373-5, cited by Easlea, p.219. Keith Hutchinson has argued that the Scientific Revolution was readier to credit occult qualities as causes ('What Happened to Occult Qualities in the Scientific Revolution?', Isis, 73 (1982), 233-53), and supernatural agency ('Supernaturalism and the Mechanical Philosophy', History of Science, 21, 1983, 297-333) than e.g. the Aristotelians had been. But this is only true as far as it relates to invisible but universal and regular causes, sometimes regarded as the direct expressions of laws of nature impressed by the Creator; it does not serve to show that belief in other occult qualities and other supernatural activity did not decline. WB, Book II, sections 26-30. WB, Book III WB, preface to Book I, b8. WB, Book I, sections 15-21. WB, Book II, sections 32f.; the quoted words are cited by Easlea at p.218 . Trevor-Roper, RRSC, 174 WB, preface to Book I, b8. WB, preface to Book I, b5f. RRSC, 182; Trevor-Roper here accepts the verdict of Thomasius. Thomas, pp. 577-81. Trevor-Roper, RRSC, p. 183 WB, preface to Book I, b6f; preface to Books II to IV.
    • 51. Robin Attfield, God and The Secular: A Philosophical Assessment of Secular Reasoning from Bacon to Kant (Cardiff, 1978), pp. 33-49.
    • 52. Robin Attfield, The Ethics of Environmental Concern, (Oxford and New York: 1983), chapters 2 to 5, and 8.
    • 53. Attfield, God and The Secular, pp. 15-33, 49-67.
    • 54. See the passage from Sprat's History of the Royal Society (London, 1667), cited by Easlea at pp. 4 and 212.
    • 57. Attfield, God and The Secular, pp. 68-69.
    • 58. Thomas, pp. 476f. For a study of the way in which demonology sometimes served an inversionary role, clarifying thereby the nature of 'sound theology' and politics, see Stuart Clark, 'Inversion, Misrule and the Meaning of Witchcraft', Past and Present, 87 (1980), 98-127. I should not, however, endorse his view that world-views are beyond explanation and appraisal.
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