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Die Entmachtung des Teufels. Das Jenaer Ereignis 1715 und die Dämonologie der Aufklärung

Abstract : An incident which took place in the university town of Jena, at the end of the year 1715, provoked an eager debate of German scholars about the question whether Satan was still in power. Three men had died in an attempt to call up the demons. For a part of the public opinion of this time, they were victims of the devil. Others thought that natural reasons had caused their deaths. Generally, the event gave way to a discussion about the question of Satan’s ability to damage or to destroy human bodies. Medical scholars were convinced that they had to play a decisive role in the discussion. At the universities of Central Germany, different points of view on the subject were articulated. Jena defended the idea that the devil had still power to exercise on material things, whilst Halle’s well-renowned medical scholar Friedrich Hoffmann fought in favour of the thesis that natural causes had done their work in the Jena Affair. Finally, the faculties of Leipzig intervened in stating that Satan had not given a proof of his power in the events. If we analyze the views of a scientific authority like Friedrich Hoffmann, we have to assume that German enlightened thought could nonetheless accommodate the idea of Satan’s existence, around 1715. But a well-informed scholar of Hoffmann’s kind advocated the idea that the Evil One’s power was continually diminishing.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, November 3, 2021 - 6:04:42 PM
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Thomas Nicklas. Die Entmachtung des Teufels. Das Jenaer Ereignis 1715 und die Dämonologie der Aufklärung. Cahiers d'études germaniques, Université de Provence-Aix-Marseille, 2012, 63 (2), pp.165-178. ⟨hal-02548695⟩

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