Opplyst barbari. Overtrokritikk i Reginald Scots "The Discoverie of Witchcraft" (1584) og William Perkins' "A Discourse of the Damned Art of Witchcraft" (1608)
Enlightened Barbarism. Superstition Critique in Reginald Scot's "The Discoverie of Witchcraft" (1584) and William Perkins' "A Discourse of the Damned Art of Witchcraft" (1608)
Witch-skeptic Reginald Scot and “witchmonger” William Perkins are typically cast as polar opposites in England’s early modern debate on witchcraft. When their differences are played down, Scot tends to be stripped of his proto-rationalism, while Perkins remains a representa-tive of religious backwardness. This study challenges such portrayals by demonstrating that beneath clashing views on witches, Scot and Perkins shared a strikingly similar understanding of superstition. Overlapping superstition critiques in Scot’s The Discoverie of Witchcraft (1584) and Perkins’ A Discourse of the Damned Art of Witchcraft (1608) reveal in both au-thors assumptions that have come to be known as modern and progressive. Scot and Perkins displayed a 17th century rationalist view of the relationship between words and things, and their common preoccupation with illusions, along with a marked ambivalence towards sen-sory reliability, mirrors the concerns of an early modern science struggling to balance skepti-cism with empiricism. My analysis aims therefore not only to mitigate an exaggerated con-trast between Scot’s and Perkins’ ideas, but also to highlight underexposed parallels between theological witchcraft theory and scientific thought.