'Astonishing ... enjoy its riches slowly, and savour every generous, erudite and undogmatic page' Boyd Tonkin, Financial Times
'We English men have wits,' wrote the clergyman Ralph Lever in 1573, and, 'we have also framed unto ourselves a language.'
Witcraft is a fresh and brilliant history of how philosophy became established in English. It presents a new form of philosophical storytelling and challenges what Jonathan Rée calls the 'condescending smugness' of traditional histories of philosophy. Rée tells the story of philosophy as it was lived and practised, embedded in its time and place, by men and women from many walks of life, engaged with the debates and culture of their age. And, by focusing on the rich history of works in English, including translations, he shows them to be quite as colourful, diverse, inventive and cosmopolitan as their continental counterparts.
Witcraft offers new and compelling intellectual portraits not only of celebrated British and American philosophers, such as Hume, Emerson, Mill and James, but also of the remarkable philosophical work of literary authors, such as William Hazlitt and George Eliot, as well as a carnival of overlooked characters - priests and poets, teachers, servants and crofters, thinking for themselves and reaching their own conclusions about religion, politics, art and everything else.
The book adopts a novel structure, examining its subject at fifty-year intervals from the sixteenth century to the twentieth. Researched over decades and illuminated by quotations from extensive archival material, it is a book full of stories and personalities as well as ideas, and shows philosophy springing from the life around it. Witcraft overturns the established orthodoxies of the history of philosophy, and celebrates the diversity, vitality and inventiveness of philosophical thought.
Strictly Necessary cookies enable core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility. You may disable these by changing your browser settings, but this may affect how the website functions. See More.
Analytics cookies help us to improve our website by collecting and reporting information on how you use it. These cookies may be set by us or by third-party providers whose services we have added to our pages. See More.
Targeting cookies are used to make advertising messages more relevant to you and your interests. They perform functions like preventing the same content from reappearing, ensuring ads are displayed and, in some cases, selecting content based on your interests. See More.