Philosophy 2006 Lecture Notes - Scapegoating, Syphilis, Puritans

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15 Apr 2012
Unit V Lecture III March 29, 2012
AndreskiThe Syphilitic Shock
What Andreski thinks an account of the witch craze should explain:
1. Its duration.
2. Its geographical extension.
3. Its generality/classlessness.
4. Its bias against women.
5. Its contrariety to the direction of intellectual progress.
6. Its bias against midwives.
7. Its loose association with wars.
8. The prominent role of monks and Puritans.
Criticisms of Other Theories
Bias Against Women
o [Honegger] Witch trials were motivated by the move to subjugate women.
o Criticism Too many men and boys were killed (10-15% of the victims); women
can be subjugated without killing them).
Geographical Extent
o [Thomas] Influence of capitalism on rural life led to a clash between duty to
help unfortunate and the desire to pursue self-interest.
o Criticism If witch-hunts were the byproduct of capitalism, it should have been
most virulent where capitalism started; greatest hunts were in Germany and
France, where villages were hardly influenced by capitalism.
o [Favret] Witch hunts instigated not by peasants but by judges whose motive
was fear of counter-culture.
o Criticism Peasants believed in witches, the primary target (old women)
wouldn’t make a very dangerous counter-culture; hardly surprising that most
victims were peasants since most people were peasants.
Association With Wars
o [Trevor-Roper] Wars of religion, which coincide with or occur just before the
hunts, lead to terror and scapegoating.
o Criticism Many wars occurred before and after without witch-hunts; soldiers
rape, but why would they choose to burn people alive this time? Wars of religion
had occurred before without evidence it was accompanied by witch-hunts.
Prominent Role of Clergy
o [Murray] Witch hunts were result of church’s attempt to stamp out old Pagan
cults still existing in rural Europe.
o Criticism Why would the church wait until the 16th century to stamp out these
Pagan cults?
Andreski’s Thesis
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