In these articles John Henry argues on the one hand for the intimate relationship between religion and early modern attempts to develop new understandings of nature, and on the other hand for the role of occult concepts in early modern natural philosophy. Focussing on the scene in England, the articles provide detailed examinations of the religious motivations behind Roman Catholic efforts to develop a new mechanical philosophy, theories of the soul and immaterial spirits, and theories of active matter. There are also important studies of animism in the beginnings of experimentalism, the role of occult qualities in the mechanical philosophy, and a new account of the decline of magic. As well as general surveys, the collection includes in depth studies of William Gilbert, Sir Kenelm Digby, Henry More, Francis Glisson, Robert Boyle, Robert Hooke, and Isaac Newton.
John Henry is Professor Emeritus and Director of Science Studies Unit, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh, UK
Contents: Preface; Animism and empiricism: Copernican physics and the origin of William Gilbert's experimental method; Atomism and eschatology: Catholicism and natural philosophy in the Interregnum; Occult qualities and the experimental philosophy: active principles in pre-Newtonian matter theory; Medicine and pneumatology: Henry More, Richard Baxter and Francis Glisson's Treatise on the Energetic Nature of Substance; The matter of souls: medical theory and theology in 17th-century England; Henry More versus Robert Boyle: the spirit of nature and the nature of providence; Boyle and cosmical qualities; Robert Hooke, the incongruous mechanist; 'Pray do not ascribe that notion to me': God and Newton's gravity; The fragmentation of Renaissance occultism and the decline of magic; Index.