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The Devil's TabernacleThe Pagan Oracles in Early Modern Thought$
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Anthony Ossa-Richardson

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691157115

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691157115.001.0001

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Enlightenment?

Enlightenment?

Chapter:
(p.205) Chapter Five Enlightenment?
Source:
The Devil's Tabernacle
Author(s):

Anthony Ossa-Richardson

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691157115.003.0006

This chapter examines the exchange between Fontenelle and Baltus. Fontenelle's celebrated Histoire des oracles (1686) was an adaptation of an earlier work, the Dissertationes duae de oraculis ethnicorum (1683) by the Mennonite preacher and physician, Antonie van Dale. Both argued that the oracles had been pure frauds. The chapter focuses on Fontenelle because it was the Histoire, not the Dissertationes, that Baltus attacked at length in 1707. These two, therefore, must be paired as direct interlocutors. The analytical, nonhistorical approach of this chapter suits its goal: to examine the conflict between two mentalités, and the way in which their respective assumptions about history and humanity underpinned their disagreement on the oracles. In taking Fontenelle and Baltus seriously, both in their own right and as figures in history, the chapter aims to overcome the old dichotomy between “rational” and “historical” reconstructions of past thought, that is, between anachronism and antiquarianism.

Keywords:   oracles, Fontenelle, Baltus, Histoire des oracles, Antonie van Dale, anachronism, antiquarianism

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