This seminar studies the momentous transformation of knowledge that took place
between the late sixteenth and the early eighteenth century, and which is usually
described as the Scientific Revolution. During this period, the criteria for assessing what
can count as sound evidence changed significantly, as did those to judge whether an
argument is valid, or a belief credible. We shall explore the social and cultural contexts in
which Western science emerged as a distinctive kind of knowledge and set of practices.
At the same time, we shall look at the continuing vitality, throughout this period, of forms
of religious and magical experience. How do historians understand this entanglement of
recognizably modern ways of thinking with beliefs in magic, astrology, prophecy, and witchcraft?