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Title: "Miraculous and supernaturall effects" in the works of Henry More
Author: Fitzpatrick, Clare
ISNI:       0000 0004 7972 6452
Awarding Body: Birkbeck, University of London
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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Dr. Henry More [1614-1687], the prominent English theologian and philosopher, included hundreds of cases of "miraculous and supernaturall effects", such as ghosts, witchcraft and divine intervention, throughout many of his works. Many historians of More have struggled to reconcile their admiration for his philosophy with their embarrassment at his engagement with ideas and cases concerning the supernatural. Therefore whilst the associated belief structures (especially witchcraft) have been examined by modern social and cultural historians, the experiences themselves, and the contemporary study of those experiences, have been relatively neglected. This study will expand on earlier work by A. Rupert Hall, Allison Coudert and Robert Crocker to explore More's use of such cases to explain the different metaphysical properties of God (miracles, prophecy and providence), the characteristics of the soul, angels, demons and witchcraft, and the Spirit of Nature (an intermediary spiritual principle that organises and animates matter). The cases represent a fascinating insight into beliefs and phenomenology. Human experience is a product of both culture and individual cognitive and perceptual processes and therefore I have integrated certain findings from anomalistic psychology into this interdisciplinary psycho-historical study to help bridge the gap between realism and relativism. The anachronistic charges of credulity against More are challenged by assessing More's beliefs in their contemporary context; his robust criticism of Catholic miracle claims and astrology demonstrate he did distinguish between different types of supernatural assertions. I have also identified how More struggled to balance his natural theology with the new science, the pitfalls of confirmation bias and pseudoscientific reasoning, and how More's own personal experiences contributed to his conviction in his personal belief framework and his acceptance of such a broad range of miraculous and supernatural effects.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available