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Physico-theology

Religion and Science in Europe, 1650–1750

Beginning around 1650, the emergence of a number of new scientific concepts, methods, and instruments challenged existing syntheses of science and religion. Physico-theology, which embraced the values of personal, empirical observation, was an international movement of the early Enlightenment that focused on the new science to make arguments about divine creation and providence. By reconciling the new science with Christianity across many denominations, physico-theology played a crucial role in diffusing new scientific ideas, assumptions, and interest in the study of nature to a broad public. In this book, sixteen leading scholars contribute a rich array of essays on the terms and scope of the movement, its scientific and religious arguments, and its aesthetic sensibilities.

Contributors: Ann Blair, Simona Boscani Leoni, John Hedley Brooke, Nicolas Brucker, Katherine Calloway, Kathleen Crowther, Brendan Dooley, Peter Harrison, Barbara Hunfeld, Eric Jorink, Scott Mandelbrote, Brian W. Ogilvie, Martine Pécharman, Jonathan Sheehan, Anne-Charlott Trepp, Rienk Vermij, Kaspar von Greyerz

About the Authors

Ann Blair is the Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor at Harvard University. She is the author of Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information before the Modern Age. Kaspar von Greyerz is professor emeritus in the Department of History at the University of Basel. He is the author of Religion and Culture in Early Modern Europe, 1500–1800.

Endorsements

"Physico-theology contributes significantly to ongoing debates about religion and the emergence of the new science of the seventeenth century, the character of the Enlightenment, and, more broadly, the historical relations between religion and science or, to put it more accurately, between divine and natural knowledge. The contributors are extremely qualified, some of the very best in their fields."

- Craig Martin, Ca' Foscari University of Venice, author of Subverting Aristotle: Religion, History, and Philosophy in Early Modern Science

"A groundbreaking book. There is no other comprehensive work on physico-theology, nor on the associated enterprise of a posteriori natural theology. This collection of finely grained studies of individuals, topics, texts, and textual traditions is essential to understanding the broader field."

- Christopher S. Hamlin, University of Notre Dame, author of Hot: A Short History of Fever

"This volume provides an excellent introduction to the general topic of physico-theology. Its sixteen solid and imaginative essays reveal how scholars across Europe actively learned from and argued with each other. As a guide to recent work on this major early modern religious and intellectual movement, this collection is invaluable."

- H. C. Erik Midelfort, University of Virginia, author of Exorcism and Enlightenment: Johann Joseph Gassner and the Demons of Eighteenth-Century Germany

"For a long time, physico-theology has been neglected by both theologians and scientists. Finally, bringing together the contributions of leading experts in English, French, German, Italian, and Dutch intellectual history of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, this ambitious volume overcomes the narrow boundaries of disciplines and national traditions."

- Martin Mulsow, University of Erfurt, author of Enlightenment Underground: Radical Germany, 1680–1720

"This stimulating read reimagines the place of physico-theology in the intellectual history of the early modern period. It brings together fine-grained analyses of different intellectual and national contexts in a way that will prove highly rewarding to historians of culture, theology, and science alike."

- Michael Stolberg, University of Würzburg, author of Experiencing Illness and the Sick Body in Early Modern Europe
Johns Hopkins University Press
Medicine, Science, and Religion in Historical Context
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