The Decline of Magic Britain in the Enlightenment Michael Hunter

Publication date:
14 Jan 2020
Yale University Press
288 pages: 235 x 156mm
19 b-w illus.

A provocative account of the seismic shift in attitude toward the supernatural in seventeenth and eighteenth century Britain

Early modern Britain embraced many forms of the supernatural and took the absolute existence of a spiritual world for granted. Yet in the eighteenth century these certainties were swept away. In this ground-breaking account, Michael Hunter argues that the real pioneers in skepticism about magic were humanists and free-thinkers. However, their critical attitude toward religion meant that their views were often dismissed. Hunter reveals just how divided opinion remained and how magic was never properly tested in the Enlightenment.

Michael Hunter is emeritus professor of history, Birkbeck, University of London. He is the author of numerous works on early modern science and culture such as The Occult Laboratory and the award-winning Boyle: Between God and Science.