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Joseph Glanvill

(1636—1680) Church of England clergyman


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(1636–80)

English philosopher. An Oxford-educated proponent of the Royal Society, Glanvill is principally remembered for The Vanity of Dogmatizing (1661; the work contains the story that inspired Matthew Arnold's poem, ‘The Scholar Gipsy’). Glanvill advances a distinction later associated with Locke, between an ideal science, in which the causal relations and natures of things could be seen as they are by a God-like intuition, and the best that actual people can do, which is to chart the way things appear to us. Glanvill's account of causation and the scope of science contains striking anticipations of Hume, but is spoiled by supposing that before the Fall we (like angels) probably could have achieved the intellectual intuition that we cannot now manage; for the tough-minded Hume this ideal is incoherent. Glanvill also wrote Philosophical Considerations touching Witches and Witchcraft (1666, reissued as A Blow at Modern Sadducism, 1668) which reflects extensive work he conducted on what was later called psychical research. See also Sadducism.

Subjects: Philosophy — Literature.


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