1st Edition

An Anatomy of Witchcraft Between Cognitive Sciences and History

    276 Pages
    by Routledge

    276 Pages
    by Routledge

    Much has been written on witchcraft by historians, theologians, philosophers, and anthropologists, but nothing by scientists. This book aims to reappraise witchcraft by applying to it the advances in cognitive sciences.

    The book is divided into four parts. Part I ("Deep History") deals with human emotions and the drive to represent witches as evil female agents. Part II ("Historical Times") focuses on those rare state and church repressions of malefice, which, surprisingly, did not feature in Islamic lands. Modern urbanization dealt a blow to the rural civilizations where accusations of witchcraft were rife. Part III ("In the Laboratory") applies neuroscience to specific case studies to investigate the personification of misfortune, the millenary stereotype witch = woman, the reality of evil, and the phenomenon of treasure hunting. Part IV ("Millenials") wonders whether intentional malefic hatred in a closed chapter in the history of humanity.

    An Anatomy of Witchcraft is ideal reading for students and scholars. Given its interdisciplinary nature, the book will be of interest to scholars from many fields including evolutionary psychology, anthropology, women’s history, and cognitive sciences.

    Part One: Deep History

    Introduction to Part One

    1. Towards Homo Sapiens

    2. Reciprocal Altruism

    3. Prehistoric Women

    4. Primary Emotions: Fear and Anger

    5. Social Emotions: Empathy-Shame-Envy

    6. Drives: Eros

    7. Drives: Seeking

    8. Evolved and Abandoned: A Standstill Psychology?

    9. Looking for Witchcraft

    10. Defining Evil Witchcraft

    11. Redefining Evil Witchcraft

    Part Two: Historical Times

    Introduction to Part Two

    12. Visions of the World

    13. Witchcraft and Power

    14. A Long Walk: Towards a Magic-Religion Dichotomy

    15. Greece and Rome: The Complementarity Between Magic and Religion

    16. Greece and Rome: The Ambiguous State Control of Witchcraft

    17. Christian Transformations: The Nuclear Fallout

    18. Early-Modern Witch-Hunting: A Cognitive Puzzle?

    19. The Disenchantment of the World

    20. The Other Monotheisms: Jewish and Islamic

    Part Three: In the Laboratory

    Introduction to Part Three

    21. Case Study 1: The Personalization of Damage

    22. Case Study 2: Ambiguities of Malefice: The Evil Eye

    23. Case Study 3: The Reality of Malefice

    24. Case Study 4: The Stereotype: Witch=Woman

    25. Case Study 5: An Envious and Factional Community

    26. Case Study 6: Anatomy of Witchcraft

    27. Case Study 7: Treasure Hunting or the Simulator Brain

    Part Four: Millennials

    Introduction to Part Four

    28. A Look from the Above



    Oscar Di Simplicio is a former lecturer in early modern history at the University of Florence. His previous publications include several books and articles that explore the history of witchcraft, the witch-hunts, and the neuropsychological origins of witchcraft cognition. He lives in Siena.

    Martina Di Simplicio is a clinical senior lecturer in psychiatry at Imperial College London with expertise spanning cognitive neuroscience, clinical psychiatry, and digital technologies. Her research seeks to understand the cognitive mechanisms that underly emotional distress, support resilience, and drive successful treatment of mental disorders.