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Solomon's Secret ArtsThe Occult in the Age of Enlightenment$
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Paul Kleber Monod

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780300123586

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300123586.001.0001

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The Newtonian Magi

The Newtonian Magi

(p.157) Chapter Five The Newtonian Magi
Solomon's Secret Arts

Paul Kléber Monod

Yale University Press

This chapter shows the steady decline of the occult by the year 1715, and the few influential men within the English intellectual elite who longed to resuscitate it and appropriate it in ways that were compatible with natural philosophy. The period after 1715 was the age of glory for Sir Isaac Newton and his disciples, known as Newtonians. Philosophical and scientific discourse were dominated by the Newtonians until the 1760s. They endeavored to reshape the entire British cultural landscape to accord with Sir Isaac Newton's genius. Since the master was unforthcoming and often enigmatic about the larger implications of his work, Newtonians were relatively free to interpret what it all meant, and they went about it with passion—questioning prodigies or wonders, deriding popular “superstitions,” and scorning magical explanations.

Keywords:   decline of occult, English intellectual elite, natural philosophy, Newtonians, British cultural landscape, Sir Isaac Newton, popular superstitions, magical explanations

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