November 22, 2012
- Epistemology – Philosophical investigation of human hypothesis.
- From the early periods of Christian beliefs.
- What kinds of questions should we ask about witchcraft beliefs
- Rise and decline
- Where in medieval cultures – ideas were circulating
- Need to know something about the people who produced them.
- ^and rejected them
- Ideas of diabolical witchcraft entered the trial of Temple –not from
the villagers – through the judicial and scientific authorities (doctor
- Introduced diabolical pact, witches Sabbath, desecrating holy
objects and sexual intercourse with demonic entities.
- Studying history from a social perspective – why ideas make sense
to people, why ideas gain traction in certain places, etc…
- These ideas are emerging precisely from the people who hold
authority in the culture (legal, governance, moral, religious, and
- The same people who brought these beliefs of witchcraft to light are
- ^16 th– 18 thC.
- These documents don't represent all of the skeptical voices – there
were skeptics before these centuries.
- Expressing skepticism (particularly in the 15 and 16 hundreds) was
dangerous – could draw accusations of diabolical witchcraft to the
- The historical authors were often arguing for their beliefs.
- Often the author did have opponents in line.
- Jaquié was an inquisitor – his shrill argument suggests to us that
there were Church inquisitors that were less likely to accept absurd
notions of sex with demons and flying through the air.
- If you took out flight then you cant get to the witches dance (where
pacts are made, orgies happen, infanticide, etc…)
- J argued that flight was real (against the canon episcope)
- Our witches are not the same
- Governing elites – The same types of people who produced the
witchcraft beliefs over time are the same who are rejecting the
beliefs over time.
- People who have authority are making and then un-making these
- Ideas themselves don't exist in a vacuum
- Why was there this abrupt end?
- What has changed? How did things change? - There is no single factor which can account for the change from
belief and skepticism
- Both Russell and K&P believe – the world is changing – changes in
the legal system to prosecute witchcraft – identifying changes in
Christian theological systems
- Satan worked purposely to destroy all Christians.
- Why did these beliefs disappear.
- Russell cautions us against the answer which is too easy –
- The periods of witchcraft are the same as the Renaissance,
Scientific Revolution, Humanism –