Michael Pickering

The early Enlightenment was anything but ‘disenchanted’: elements of the numinous appeared in a wide variety of discourses well into the so-called Age of Reason. My project continues and expands upon this trend in the historiography by investigating the role that magical power played in the perceived efficacy of medical remedies in the German-speaking world in the early Enlightenment (1670-1750). It does this through a sustained examination of a wide variety of pharmaceutical texts, considering: whether there was indeed a decline in the early Enlightenment in the use of human body parts and excretions in the materia medica; and the extent to which purported healing properties of human remains may have been transferred to plant- or mineral-based substances. Rather than conceptualising magic as a singular system of thought, my approach considers magic to be an array of discursive, conceptual fragments; some of which, such as astrology, experienced a significant decline in the eighteenth century, and others of which were highly amenable to other discourses.