Friday, May 19, 2017

Intellectualist approach[edit] The intellectualist approach to defining "magic" is associated with two prominent British anthropologists, Edward Tylor and James G. Frazer.[13] This was an approach that viewed "magic" as being the theoretical opposite of science,[14] which came to preoccupy much anthropological thought on the subject.[15]

In his 1871 book Primitive Culture, Tylor characterized magic as beliefs based on "the error of mistaking ideal analogy for real analogy".[16] In Tylor's view, "primitive man, having come to associate in thought those things which he found by experience to be connected in fact, proceeded erroneously to invert this action, and to conclude that association in thought must involve similar connection in reality. He thus attempted to discover, to foretell, and to cause events by means of processes which we can now see to have only an ideal significance".[17]

Tylor's ideas were adopted and simplified by Frazer.[17] He used the term "magic" to mean sympathetic magic, describing it as a practice relying on the magician's belief "that things act on each other at a distance through a secret sympathy", something which he described as "an invisible ether".[17] He further divided this "magic" into two forms, the "homeopathic (imitative, mimetic)" and the "contagious".[17][18] Frazer characterized a belief in "magic" as a major stage in humanity's cultural development, describing it as part of a tripartite division in which magic came first, "religion" came second, and eventually "science" came third.[17]

Others, such as N. W. Thomas[19] and Sigmund Freud have rejected this explanation. Freud explains that "the associated theory of magic merely explains the paths along which magic proceeds; it does not explain its true essence, namely the misunderstanding which leads it to replace the laws of nature by psychological ones".[20]:83 Freud emphasizes that what led primitive men to come up with magic is the power of wishes: "His wishes are accompanied by a motor impulse, the will, which is later destined to alter the whole face of the earth in order to satisfy his wishes. This motor impulse is at first employed to give a representation of the satisfying situation in such a way that it becomes possible to experience the satisfaction by means of what might be described as motor hallucinations. This kind of representation of a satisfied wish is quite comparable to children's play, which succeeds their earlier purely sensory technique of satisfaction. [...] As time goes on, the psychological accent shifts from the motives for the magical act on to the measures by which it is carried out—that is, on to the act itself. [...] It thus comes to appear as though it is the magical act itself which, owing to its similarity with the desired result, alone determines the occurrence of that result.

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