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Magic Topic 1. Definitions. Magic (from Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary). 1 a : the use of means (as charms or spells) believed to have supernatural power over natural forces b : magic rites or incantations 2 a : an extraordinary power or influence seemingly from a supernatural source

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magic topic 1

Magic Topic 1


magic from merriam webster s dictionary
Magic(from Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary)
  • 1 a: the use of means (as charms or spells) believed to have supernatural power over natural forces
  • b: magic rites or incantations
  • 2 a: an extraordinary power or influence seemingly from a supernatural source
  • b: something that seems to cast a spell : ENCHANTMENT
  • 3: the art of producing illusions by sleight of hand
what is magic
What is magic?
  • Frazer, The Golden Bough, 1900
    • Magic is a technique that aims to manipulate impersonal forces
j g frazer
J. G.Frazer
  • Magical thought
  • belief that objects and individuals
  • act on each other at a distance,
  • through a secret ‘fellow-feeling’ (‘sympathy’)
how does magic differ from religion
How does magic differ from religion?
  • Tylor (1871), Primitive Culture:
    • Magic does not entail belief in spiritual beings
  • Durkheim, Elementary Forms of Religious life (1951)
    • Religions involve communities, magic concerns individuals
how does magic differ from religion1
How does magic differ from religion?
  • Malinowski, Magic, Science, and Religion (1948)
    • Religions have intangible, long term goals, magic concrete and practical
malinowski 1948
Malinowski 1948
  • Studied Trobriand culture with its diverse aspects of magic, canoe magic, garden magic, language of magic with its special pronunciation
back to frazer
Back to Frazer
  • Magic as technique with practical goals
law of sympathy



Law of Similarity Law of Contact

(Homeopathic Magic) (Contagious Magic)

magic acc to frazer
Magic (acc. to Frazer)

Theoretical Practical




Positive Magic Negative Magic

Sorcery Taboo

magic and greek thought

Magic and Greek thought

The sources of knowledge

in homer 8th bce
In Homer (8th BCE)…
  • I know = I have seen/felt and now I possess a certain sentiment towards…’
classical greek thought
Classical Greek Thought
  • “Classical Greek thought that was grounded in the natural sciences”
  • “Something unusual happened in Greece ... Whereas the previous great cultures of the Mediterranean had used mythological stories … to explain the operations of the world and of the self, some of the Greeks … instead of reading their ideas into, or out of, ancient scriptures or poems, began to use reason, contemplation, and sensory observation to make sense of reality.”
“In general, philosophy came into existence when the Greeks discovered their dissatisfaction with supernatural and mythical explanations of reality. Over time, Greek thinkers began to suspect that there was a rational or logical order to the universe.”
knowledge is based on
Knowledge is based on
    • Intuition — Sensory perception
          • BCE BCE
  • Heraclitus (7th-6th)
  • Parmenides (5th)
  • Philolaus (5th BCE) Empedocles (5th)
  • Plato (5th - 4th BCE) Aristotle (4th)
heraclitus 6 th 5 th bce
Heraclitus (6th-5th BCE)
  • The underlying harmony of things, Logos, can be perceived intuitively
parmenides 5 th bce
Parmenides (5th BCE)
  • The only way towards knowledge is through religious revelation.
philolaus the pythagorean 5 th bce
Philolaus the Pythagorean (5th BCE)
  • “Nature requires divine, not human, knowledge.”
plato 5 th 4 th bce
Plato (5th - 4th BCE)
  • True knowledge is inborn, and the world we perceive is a mere shadow of the true world of ideas.
empedocles 5 th bce
Empedocles (5th BCE)
  • An intelligent use of the sensory evidence available to mortals, is an aid to philosophical instruction.
aristotle 4 th bce
Aristotle (4th BCE)
  • Patterns of truth can be found in the perceivable world.
for plotinus 3 rd ce
For Plotinus (3rd CE):
  • Magical actions can be explained by “sympathy, because there exists both harmony between similar things and repulsion between dissimilar ones …”
many things are being attracted and enchanted, although no one sets them in motion: true magic then is the love there is in the cosmos, and its opposite, the hate.” (Enneades 4.4.40)”