The Age of Genius by A. C. Grayling

The Age of Genius by A. C. Grayling

Author:A. C. Grayling
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Published: 2015-12-05T05:00:00+00:00

The story of Rosicrucianism is the end-point of what is arguably the gestation period of the modern mind, the period in which enquiry began to enjoy increasing freedom from the heavy constraints of both religious orthodoxy and magical thinking. The process had started in the early Renaissance with the humanistic turn to interest in things of this life in this world, and was dramatically furthered by the Reformation’s assertion of liberty of conscience, which quickly became a desire for liberty of enquiry in general.22 This efflorescence of thought consisted in a mixed luxuriance of what was both good and bad, weeds and crops together, the former all the occult enthusiasms, the latter – with more assiduous cultivation – resulting in the maturation of science and philosophy as we know them now. Thus out of the chaos of ideas constituting magia, cabala, alchymia, with astrology and Hermeticism’s mystical employment of number besides – or alongside it, or despite it, but certainly in opposition to it eventually – came science. It is probably most right to see science not as the child of the other forms of speculation, but as being among the speculations that proved worth taking seriously.

If one were asked to put beginning and end dates to this gestation period, a plausible suggestion would be that ‘occult science’ had its heyday in the period between 1480 and 1620. Perhaps that too neatly gives Rosicrucianism the status of a climax – remember Newton and Boyle – but the latter date has another recommendation: it was the point at which Bacon and Descartes were thinking about method not as the occultists had, but as scientists do; and this, as subsequent intellectual history shows, was the significant thing.


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