Magic as a historiographic category

Dana Jalobeanu

What is Renaissance magic? What connects the seemingly very different enterprises of Marsilio Ficino (De vita libri tres), Cornelius Agrippa, Giordano Bruno (De vinculis), Giovan Battista della Porta (Magia naturalis) and Francis Bacon? In what sense their projects of a natural magic are about the same thing?

One proposal to answer this question was formulated more than 30 years ago by Ioan Petru Culianu’s book, Eros and Magic in the Renaissance. A book widely read but also very much contested by the experts. A book that still makes a very good reading today. Culianu’s proposal is to treat magic as a historiographic category. And to define it as a science of manipulating the contents of the imaginary. Or a set of sciences, since Culianu talks rather about a cluster of Renaissance sciences of the imaginary which contains not only natural (and demonic) magic, but also sciences such as the art of memory, divination, astrology etc.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of re-reading Renaissance authors with the help of this historiographic category? And in what way is Culianu’s “magic” useful to the historian of science (or the intellectual historian) today?

Join us on Friday, 31 of July, 8 pm (Bucharest time). On zoom and live on the youtube channel Cafeneaua filosofica. For the zoom link email me:

Below a trailer – as a teaser for Friday.

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