chapter  7
Sensory experience, experimentation and global skepticism
Pages 64

The preceding chapter argued that there existed a number of types of evidence that improved the verisimilitude of marvels stories, and increased the likelihood that responders would believe them to be true. In this discussion, it was noted that some twelfth-century commentators questioned the value of sensory evidence and humanity’s ability to rationally deduce the truth or falsehood of God-ordained marvels that were complex and unprecedented, as William of Newburgh, for example, did of the green children of Woolpit. The present chapter extends these views to show that sensory experience was both relied on and questioned, and shows how various individuals attempted to ascertain truths through isolated instances of experimentation. We also discuss how the demands for proof of marvels contributed to the development of global skepticism, which burgeoned through the twelfth and thirteenth centuries partly as a result of the questioning of marvels, and further in the fourteenth century (not discussed here), culminating in the program of fourteenth-century philosophers like Jean Buridan and Nicole Oresme to naturalise marvels, miracles and visions.1