Towards the Enlightenment
This chapter moves on to the early 18th century and the first decades of the Enlightenment. The 18th century did not discard the heritage of previous centuries wholesale, whatever the statements of propagandists for the ‘Enlightenment’ might at times imply. Some ‘superstition-treatises’ emerged from the movement known as ‘baroque Catholicism’ that embodied a firm belief in the continuity of traditional metaphysics and traditional pastoral theology. In Protestant Europe, the 17th-century debate over the reality of spirits continued into the era of the Enlightenment with no clearly discernible winners or losers. The persistence of beliefs in demons and witches in southern Germany exacerbated the split between traditional baroque Catholics and the rationalist movement known as ‘reform Catholicism’.
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