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Unit IV Lecture I – February 28.docx

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Philosophy 2006
Sean Coughlin

Unit IV Lecture I – February 28, 2012 Witchcraft, Science & Skepticism th  By end of 17 c., defenders of demonology & witchcraft tried to halt skepticism/disbelief among educated classes of Europe  By 18 c., those who wanted to end witch-hunts were triumphant – last witch trials held in th first half of 18 c.  By end of 18 c., witchcraft had become topic of historical interest What Changed?  Social Improvement?  Perhaps witches were hunted because they gave people what felt like control over an uncertain world; once social conditions improved, there was no longer a need to hunt witches. th o Unlikely. General economic conditions remained the same in the late 17 c.; conditions of life for most remained unchanged; disease & famine persisted; technological innovations did not occur until 1800’s.  Decline of Popular Witch Beliefs?  Perhaps people felt that the regular persecution of witches brought no end to problem that plagued early modern life – So general population became skeptical of reality of witchcraft. o No Evidence. Seems that villagers continued to feel anxious about birth, death, th th disease, and climate during the 17 & 18 c., and continued to see witchcraft behind many misfortunes; very little evidence about popular beliefs.  Decline in Witchcraft Beliefs of the Elite Classes?  Perhaps the beliefs of the ruling classes changed, and their new way of understanding the world resulted in decline of witch persecutions. o POSSIBLE. 17 c. saw rise to prominence of 3 profoundly influential ways of thinking:
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