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Rhetoric, Science, and Magic in Seventeenth-Century England by Ryan J. Stark

By Ryan J. Stark

Rhetoric operated on the crux of seventeenth-century idea, from arguments among scientists and magicians to anxieties over witchcraft and disputes approximately theology. Writers on both sides of those an important issues under pressure rhetorical discernment, simply because to the astute observer the form of one's eloquence was once maybe the main trustworthy indicator of the heart's piety or, on the other hand, of demonry. to appreciate the period's tenor, we needs to comprehend the period's rhetorical pondering, that is the point of interest of this book.

Ryan J. Stark offers a spiritually delicate, interdisciplinary, and unique dialogue of early sleek English rhetoric. He exhibits particularly how experimental philosophers tried to disenchant language. whereas rationalists and skeptics extremely joyful during this disenchantment, mystics, wizards, and different practitioners of mysterious arts vehemently hostile the rhetorical precepts of contemporary technological know-how. those writers used tropes now not as simple tools yet quite as numinous units in a position to remodeling truth. to the contrary, the recent philosophers perceived all esoteric language as a possibility to learning's development, inflicting them to disavow either nefarious varieties of occult spell casting and, regrettably, edifying types of wonderment and incantation. This primary clash among scientists and mystics over the character of rhetoric is the main major linguistic occurring in seventeenth-century England, and, as Stark argues, it ought profoundly to notify how we talk about the increase of contemporary English writing.

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75 For Glanvill, transmutation is a plain rhetorical figure in all instances. It is neither magical nor mystical. Metonyms are utilitarian structures, dress for the ideas themselves. But this is not how metonyming functions in Rosicrucian language magic, where sorcerers use enchanted tropes to alter the shape of reality. To rearrange metonyms is to rearrange the very fabric of the cosmos, by the precepts of the Renaissance magician, while in Glanvill’s philosophy of rhetoric, rearranging metonyms is simply a matter of shifting adornment, rather than ontology.

21 Bacon inherits this widely told narrative of rhetoric’s mysterious and seemingly supernatural origins, but he does not retell it. This is a significant omission, because it signals a fundamental departure from the world of ancient rhetoric. In most classical and Renaissance accounts of rhetoric’s origins, the great orator appears as a mystic or a magician, an individual capable of astounding verbal feats. Such narratives, however, struck the new scientists as tales of either credulity or witchery, instances of preternatural charm17.

Renaissance theurgy). ”27 This is the most damaging point of critique against magic in his writings, because natural spell casting depends upon a magical philosophy of language, where tropes carry with them cosmic verisimilitudes and prelapsarian essences. Sennert jettisons these fundamental building blocks of natural magic, which leads to a radical dissociation between the magician’s philosophy of rhetoric and the new scientist’s philosophy of rhetoric. Like most experimentalists, Sennert also questions the standard microcosm to macrocosm analogy—the mysterious trope upon which 25.

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