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Castelli in aria: immaginazione e spirito della natura in Henry More

Abstract : Stories of the maternal imagination, imprinting images on the fetus or deforming it, were commonplace in the early modern period. The recent secondary literature has discussed theories of the maternal imagination in relation to animal generation and heredity, but has ignored the broader context of theories of the powerful imagination. In this article, I will show how a curious story about a cherry, imprinted on the skin of a fetus, was used by the Neo-Platonist philosopher Henry More as an occasion to explore stronger powers of the imagination, which could act outside the body. On the one hand, theories of a powerful imagination, as advocated by Pomponazzi and Vanini for instance, were used to naturalize wondrous phenomena and to deny spiritual action in the world. In contrast, for More, stories about preternatural wonders provided empirical proof for the activity of immaterial spirits. More denied that a material imagination could have strong powers, and he argued that it was only due to the assistance of the Spirit of Nature that the human and demonic imagination had the stunning powers that were attributed to them. Studying Henry More's account allows us to recognize strikingly different views of the human mind that held sway in the early modern period, as well as the importance of theories of imagination for contemporary debates about witchcraft, atheism and materialism.
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Contributor : Koen Vermeir Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - 5:00:04 PM
Last modification on : Sunday, June 26, 2022 - 4:22:46 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Friday, February 22, 2013 - 3:46:13 AM


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  • HAL Id : halshs-00750564, version 1


Koen Vermeir. Castelli in aria: immaginazione e spirito della natura in Henry More. Lo Sguardo | Rivista di Filosofia Online, Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura (2016) ; Gaffi Editore (2008), 2012, 10 (3), pp.99-124. ⟨halshs-00750564⟩



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