Defining Nature's Limits

A look at the history of censorship, science, and magic from the Middle Ages to the post-Reformation era. Neil Tarrant challenges conventional thinking by looking at the longer history of censorship, considering a five-hundred-year continuity of goals and methods stretching from the late eleventh century to well into the sixteenth. Unlike earlier studies, Defining Nature’s Limits engages the history of both learned and popular magic. Tarrant explains how the church developed a program that sought to codify what was proper belief through confession, inquisition, and punishment and prosecuted what they considered superstition or heresy that stretched beyond the boundaries of religion. These efforts were continued by the Roman Inquisition, established in 1542. Although it was designed primarily to combat Protestantism, from the outset the new institution investigated both practitioners of “illicit” magic and inquiries into natural philosophy, delegitimizing certain practices and thus shaping the development of early modern science. Describing the dynamics of censorship that continued well into the post-Reformation era, Defining Nature's Limits is revisionist history that will interest scholars of the history science, the history of magic, and the history of the church alike.

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Author
Publisher University of Chicago Press
Release Date
ISBN 0226819434
Pages 273 pages
Rating 4/5 (33 users)