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Early Modern Intellectual History

Dr Dmitri Levitin

My main field of interest is the intellectual history of Europe – and its relations with the extra-European world – between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. I have written about philosophical, scientific, medical, religious, historical, legal and political thought in this period. While I have published findings about famous individuals and institutions (including Isaac Newton, Edmond Halley, Robert Boyle, the pioneering Hebraist John Spencer, and the earliest period of the Society of Apothecaries), I am above all interested in large-scale patterns of change that transcend the influence of any individual or group. 

My first book, Ancient Wisdom in the Age of the New Science (2015), demonstrates how almost all educated people in the seventeenth century engaged deeply with the history of ancient philosophy, in contrast to the still prevalent stereotype of the period as one that witnessed a move away from humanistic modes of thought. My forthcoming book, The Kingdom of Darkness: Bayle, Newton, and the Corruptions of Philosophy, will explore the surprising connections between early modern oriental scholarship and two of the most famous ideas developed in the late seventeenth century: Pierre Bayle’s claim that a society of atheists could survive and flourish, and Isaac Newton’s positing of action at a distance. Further information on all my research and publications is available at