Ex-Classics Home Page

Scepsis Scientifica - Introduction

Scepsis Scientifica,
Or, The Vanity of Dogmatizing


Joseph Glanvill.

     Fans of Victorian poetry will be familiar with Matthew Arnold's poem The Scholar-Gipsy. This is based on the story of an Oxford scholar who abandoned his studies and joined a Gipsy tribe, but many years later met some friends from Oxford and told them how he had learned psychic techniques from them.  The story came from Glanvill's Scepsis Scientifica, which we have here.

     Joseph Glanvill was an English cleric and philosopher who lived from 1636–1680.  He was a latitudinarian in religion, advocating religious tolerance, and his philosophy was derived from Descartes. He proposed in his Scepsis Scientifica a programme of open-minded examination of evidence and a rejection of appeals to authority or pre-judgement of proposals based on an inflexible set of principles. 

     Glanvil's work has also influenced Edgar Allen Poe  and Aleister Crowley, as well as Matthew Arnold.


Read Online





Back to Ex-Classics