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    The problem of "atheism" in early modern England

    Hunter, Michael (1985) The problem of "atheism" in early modern England. Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 35 , pp. 135-157. ISSN 0080-4401.

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    To speak of ‘atheism’ in the context of early modern England immediately invites confusion, and it is for this reason that I shall place the word in inverted commas throughout this paper. On the one hand, I intend to deal with what a twentieth-century reader might expect ‘atheism’ to imply, namely overt hostility to religion. On the other, I want to consider at some length the profuse writings on ‘atheism’ that survive from the period: in these, as we shall see, the word if often used to describe a much broader range of phenomena, in a manner typical of a genre which often appears frustratingly heightened and rhetorical. Some might argue that this juxtaposition displays—and will encourage—muddled thought. But, on the contrary, I think that it is precisely from such a combination that we stand to learn most. Not only are we likely to discover how contemporaries experienced and responded to the threat of irreligion in the society of their day. In addition, by re-examining the relationship between the real and the exaggerated in their perceptions of such heterodoxy, we may be able to draw broader conclusions about early modern thought.


    Item Type: Article
    School: School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > History, Classics and Archaeology
    Depositing User: Sarah Hall
    Date Deposited: 22 May 2017 15:19
    Last Modified: 22 May 2017 15:19


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