Professor Hunter will be speaking on ‘The enigma of second sight: changing attitudes in the long 18th century.’
His talk is a sequel to his book, 'The Occult Laboratory' (2001), which described the discovery of second sight by Robert Boyle and others in the late 17th century. Second sight continued to be accepted in a Boylean manner into the 18th century, not least by Dr Johnson during his journey to the Western Isles, but it came under increasing attack due to developments in scientific and medical thought. The talk will reach its climax with Sir Walter Scott, who acknowledged that second sight could not really exist, but saw it as a suitable subject for the imagination.
Professor Hunter specialises in the history of science in 17th and early 18th century England -- and particularly in the work of Robert Boyle.