Saturday, October 20, 2012

abstract of Blum's Introduction to Giordano Bruno

 "Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) was a philosopher in his own right. However, he was famous through the centuries due to his execution as a heretic. His pronouncements against teachings of the Catholic Church, his defence of the cosmology of Nicholas Copernicus, and his provocative personality, all this made him a paradigmatic figure of modernity. Bruno’s way of philosophizing is not looking for outright solutions but rather for the depth of the problems; he knows his predecessors and their strategies as well as their weaknesses, which he exposes satirically. This introduction helps to identify the original thought of Bruno who proudly said about himself: “Philosophy is my profession!” His major achievements concern the creativity of the human mind studied through the theory of memory, the infinity of the world, and the discovery of atomism for modernity. He never held a permanent office within or without the academic world. Therefore, the way of thinking of this “Knight Errant of Philosophy” will be presented along the stations of his journey through Western Europe.

Pleasant Campania: Education Before and In the Convent
Fleeing into Exile—Northern Italy, Geneva, Toulouse: Astronomy as a Means of Earning a Living
Paris: The Power of Memory
Off to London: Satire, Metaphysics, and Ethics in Italian
God Is Not Idle: Infinite Possibilities and Infinite Reality
Religion and Ethics for the People and the Hero
Return to Paris: Challenging Mathematics and Aristotelianism
“Houses of Wisdom” in Germany: History, Magic, and Atomism
Off to Venice: The Trial of the Heretic
Afterlife: From Heretic to Hermeticist 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

abstract for a talk on textual sources of magic, epistemological problems

Giving a talk tomorrow for an interdisciplinary seminar series on pre-modern era research (before 1800) in Tartu, Estonia.

Jason Cronbach Van Boom

This talk discusses the use of textual sources in the study of medieval and early modern magic (1100-1650). Like other historical disciplines, the history of magic relies heavily on texts. When studying medieval and early modern magic, however, the historian uses two kinds of texts: texts about magic, and texts that were intended as tools for magical practices. The former category is extremely diverse with respect to content and ideological perspective. This category includes academic, legal, polemical, and popular texts. Academic and polemical texts themselves fall into different categories, mostly juridical, theological, and philosophical. Their authors come form a spectrum of learned opinion about magic, ranging from complete opposition to ardent defense. Grimoires and other magical texts comprise a distinct category. They address a limited audience (practitioners of magic) and are intended to be experimental handbooks rather than speculative treatises. Consequently, they pose some special epistemological problems. The talk will discuss four texts as primary examples: the De Mineralibus of Albertus Magnus, the Malleus Maleficarum of Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger, the De Occulta Philosophia of Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, and a 15th century German necromantic manual (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, MS Clm 849) published by Prof. Richard Kieckhefer.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Call for Papers: Celestial Magic

University of Wales Trinity Saint David
The Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture,
School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology

Eleventh Annual Sophia Centre Conference
Call for Papers


22-23 June 2013
Venue: Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, Bath, England

Keynote speakers

Prof. Peter Forshaw, Universitair Docent (Senior Lecturer/Assistant
Professor) for History of Western Esotericism in the Early Modern Period at
the Center for History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents,
University of Amsterdam.

Prof. Elliot R. Wolfson, Abraham Lieberman Professor of Hebrew and Judaic
Studies, New York University.

Conference Chairs
Dr Nicholas Campion, University of Wales Trinity Saint David,
Dr Liz Greene, University of Wales Trinity Saint David and the University of

Conference Theme
Magic, loosely defined, is the attempt to engage with the world through the
imagination or psyche, in order to obtain some form of knowledge, benefit or
advantage. Celestial magic engages with the cosmos through stellar,
planetary or celestial symbolism, influences or intelligences. This academic
conference will explore the history, philosophy and practice of celestial
magic in past or present societies.

The conference organisers invite proposals for papers of 30 minutes which
may deal with text, imagery, practice or theory. We welcome proposals on any
time period or culture. The deadline for submissions is 31 December 2012.

Please include an abstract of c. 150 words and a biography of c 100 words,
in the same document.

Abstracts and biographies should be e mailed to Dr Liz Greene,

The conference is held in collaboration with the Sophia Centre Press.
Publication: selected proceedings will be published through the Sophia
Centre Press.