Article ID: CBB095120261

Late Enlightenment Crises of Facts: Mesmerism and Meteorites (2018)


Scientific communities have frequently denied claims that later prove justified: such episodes are used in debates about the conventions that govern decisions about matters of fact. Instructive cases of such decisions and reversals occurred during a serious crisis of facts that erupted in Enlightenment Europe from the 1780s. Establishment of scientific facts relied on appropriate groups to produce and judge them, but during such periods of radical social instability, these systems were in trouble. Notions of popular superstition and of over-sophisticated imagination were then used to manage fact claims. Plebeians were reckoned superstitious and incapable of imagination; genteel elites could seem too prone to imaginative fancy, too skeptical of received doctrine. Examples of the late Enlightenment fact crises especially evident during controversies around animal magnetism, which seemed to dramatize refined vulnerability to imagination, and around aeroliths, the widespread and allegedly vulgar superstition that stones could fall to Earth, illuminate issues of authority and evidence that continue decisively to affect public sciences, traditional customs, and their claims to produce effective factual knowledge.

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Authors & Contributors
Crabtree, Adam
Ossicini, Stefano
Thierry Belleguic
Amparo Fontaine
Parent, Arnaud
Johnson, Odai
Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences
Laboratorio dell'ISPF
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Revue d'Histoire des Sciences Humaines
Medicina nei Secoli - Arte e Scienza
Journal of the History of Ideas
Wilhelm Fink Verlag
Voltaire Foundation
Swedenborg Foundation
Stanford University Press
Musica Arcana
Occult sciences
Animal magnetism
Science and art
Mesmer, Franz Anton
Puységur, Armand Marie-Jacques de Chastenet, Marquis de
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von
Wordsworth, William
Swedenborg, Emanuel
Shelley, Percy Bysshe
Time Periods
18th century
19th century
17th century
20th century
Atlantic world
Haiti (Caribbean)
Société Royale de Médecine
Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

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