Advance ticket sales have ended but plenty of additional tickets remain available at the door.
Profs and Pints Metro Detroit presents: “The Occult Origins of Science,” a look at how alchemy, astrology, and magic helped shape the modern scientific method, with Eric H. Ash, professor of history at Wayne State University and scholar of the development of science and technology in the Renaissance era.
[ Planet Ant requires proof of vaccine and a mask to enter the building and will be updating its policy as the CDC updates its guidelines.]
Science is viewed by most today as a bastion of reason and evidence, but the roots of our modern scientific method stretch deep in the irrational-seeming world of the occult. Belief in the occult was widespread during the Scientific Revolution of the 17th century, when the natural world was still believed to be full of secret knowledge and powers, knowable and accessible only by the very wisest and most pious scholars. Among its most prominent practitioners, Isaac Newton and Robert Boyle were both avid alchemists, and Johannes Kepler, a renowned astrologer.
Come to Hamtramck’s Planet Ant Theatre and gain a deep understanding of how the development of modern science represented less of a clean break from the occult than an evolutionary emergence from it. Among the questions that you’ll hear tackled: Why did virtually all learned scholars in early modern Europe believe in the occult sciences? How did those sciences work? And what impact did they have on the development of modern science?
We’ll look at the origins of many occult beliefs and practices, tracing astrology and magic all the way back to the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Babylonians. and alchemy back at least through the Middle Ages. It has always been easy to point out plenty of mysterious connections and forces in nature, such as magnetism, static electricity, and the Moon controlling the tides. The challenge was how to read or discover them, map them out, and learn to control them, and the “occult sciences” seemed to offer a means of doing this.
We’ll learn how throughout the Renaissance, magic, alchemy, and astrology seemed like perfectly reasonable and profitable pursuits to the scientists (or “natural philosophers”) of the time. During the Scientific Revolution of the 17th century, many leading scientific thinkers continued to regard the “occult sciences” as a means to understand and control the world around us. Such beliefs and practices did not really decline until the middle of the 18th century, and astrology arguably remains alive and well today.
You’ll thank your lucky stars for having attended this fascinating talk. (Advance tickets: $12. Doors: $15, or $13 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later. Please allow yourself time to place any orders and get seated and settled in. Comments, questions and concerns about Planet Ant’s health and safety policies can be directed to [email protected] )