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British Weather and the Climate of Enlightenment$
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Jan Golinski

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780226302058

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226302065.001.0001

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Sensibility and Climatic Pathology

Sensibility and Climatic Pathology

(p.137) 5 Sensibility and Climatic Pathology
British Weather and the Climate of Enlightenment
University of Chicago Press

This chapter evaluates the climatic susceptibility and the climatic pathology. Climatic susceptibility came to be seen as an index of social and cultural change, another “barometer of Enlightenment.” The issue of sensibility and its effects was both a moral and a political one. Changes of weather conditions removed the causes of certain diseases but tended to give rise to others. The revival of the Hippocratic tradition posed problems for the providential interpretation of the British climate. Although individual pneumatic therapy was largely discredited at the end of the eighteenth century, ideas about the atmospheric origins of disease did not die; nor did attempts to consider them by environmental improvement. The common assumption of enlightened thinkers, whether conservative moralists or progressive reformers, was that the air was naturally good for human life and that providence had provided remedies for situations in which its natural virtue had been corrupted.

Keywords:   climatic susceptibility, climatic pathology, Enlightenment, weather, Hippocratic tradition, British climate, pneumatic therapy

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