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  • Print publication year: 2003
  • Online publication date: March 2008

21 - Marginalized Practices

from Part II - Disciplines
This chapter surveys rhetorical attitudes toward discredited systems of belief and then discusses five examples with very different historical trajectories animal magnetism, physiognomy, astrology, alchemy, and Hutchinsonianism. Until the past twenty years, most accounts of the eighteenth century were strongly colored by the claims of Enlightenment rhetoricians that the light of reason was dispelling the dark clouds of superstitious error and ignorance. At various periods in the past, astrology, physiognomy, and alchemy were all held in high esteem as valuable sources of knowledge about the world and could not necessarily be distinguished from belief systems that people currently perceive to have laid the foundations for modern science. The chapter discusses specific situations by considering a local episode; it is possible to demonstrate how processes of marginalization are culturally fashioned. Lavaterian physiognomy was highly successful throughout Europe, although it subsequently became more fashionable in France and England.
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The Cambridge History of Science
  • Volume 4: Eighteenth-Century Science
  • Edited by Roy Porter
  • Online ISBN: 9781139053549
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