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Feeling PleasuresThe Sense of Touch in Renaissance England$
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Joe Moshenska

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198712947

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198712947.001.0001

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‘Every Where Environ’d, and Incessantly Touch’d’

‘Every Where Environ’d, and Incessantly Touch’d’

Natural Philosophies of Feeling in Seventeenth-Century England

(p.200) (p.201) 7 ‘Every Where Environ’d, and Incessantly Touch’d’
Feeling Pleasures

Joe Moshenska

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins with the correspondence between Henry More and Descartes concerning the tangibility of matter and of God. It then turns to Lucretius’s account of experiences of touch below the threshold of conscious awareness, and the development of this line of thought by thinkers including Margaret Cavendish, Walter Charleton, Ralph Bathurst, Thomas Hobbes, John Smith, and Kenelm Digby. It considers the emphasis on artisanal touch inspired in part by the writings of Paracelsus, which informed the tactile theology of Jakob Böhme and the experimental practice of Robert Boyle. The activities of the healer Valentine Greatrakes, known as Greatrakes the Stroker, are considered, whose abilities inspired a range of interpretations in which natural philosophical, theological, and occult explanations converged.

Keywords:   experiment, healing, distraction, Cavendish, Hobbes, Digby, Boyle, Paracelsus, alchemy, Greatrakes

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