At the same time the witch prosecutions were heating up in western Europe a curious thing was happening in the cultural world of the learned elite. For toward the end of the fi fteenth century and the beginning of the sixteenth we see the emergence once more of efforts by prominent thinkers to undertake the defense of magic.1 And now, in contrast to the days of Roger Bacon, there was no hesitation to use the word “magic” itself. The standard of magic as a science was raised this time not primarily by members of the university community but rather by a number of scholars outside the Scholastic milieu, mostly of a Platonizing — or Neoplatonizing — bent. Among them, the first able to command the attention of learned circles at large was the great translator and commentator on Plato and Plotinus, client of the Medici at Florence, Marsilio Ficino, born in 1433 and died in 1499. Though his work takes us back over a decade before 1500, it looks forward to the sixteenth century, the period in which it bore fruit among the great defenders of magic of the high Renaissance.
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- Desacralized Science and Social Control, 1500–1700
Steven P. Marrone
- Macmillan Education UK
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