Defining nature's limits: prosecuting magic in sixteenth-century Italy

Giambattista della Porta

Public history of science lecture by Dr Neil Tarrant.

Event details

Magic and science have traditionally been considered to have little in common.  Yet for many sixteenth-century intellectuals, including churchmen, practising magic was based upon highly sophisticated knowledge of the natural world.  For ecclesiastical censors the key issue was determining which magical practices were 'natural' and which required the assistance of demons.  In this lecture I argue that attempts to define legitimate magical practices required determining which phenomena were naturally possible, and this in turn helped to demarcate the acceptable limits of scientific expression.

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Defining nature's limits: prosecuting magic in sixteenth-century Italy 6-9 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG UK

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