David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Zygon 45 (2):317-337 (2010)
Many anthropological explanations of magical practices are based on the assumption that the immediate cause of performing an act of magic is the belief that the magic will work as claimed. Such explanations typically attempt to show why people come to believe that magical acts work as claimed when such acts do not identifiably have such effects. We suggest an alternative approach to the explanation of magic that views magic as a form of religious behavior, a form of communication that promotes or protects cooperative social relationships. We suggest that all forms of religious behavior involve persons communicating acceptance of a supernatural claim and that this act communicates a willingness to accept nonskeptically the influence of the person making such a claim. Thus, religious behavior communicates a willingness to cooperate with the claim maker and others who accept his or her influence. We suggest that magic, which can be distinguished by the communicated acceptance of the claim that certain techniques have supernatural effects, also promotes cooperation. Different types of magic, including sorcery, love magic, and curing magic, can be shown to communicate different types of messages, such as a threat to use violence to punish unsocial behavior, sexual desire, or concern for a person's well-being. Ethnographic examples are used to support this hypothesis. This approach requires no assumptions about whether the practitioners of magic do or do not believe that the magical acts work as claimed. It attempts only to account for the identifiable talk and behavior that constitute magical acts by examining the identifiable, and often important, effects of these acts on the behavior of others.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Berel Dov Lerner (1995). Understanding a (Secular) Primitive Society. Religious Studies 31 (3):303 - 309.
Teun Goudriaan (1978). Māyā Divine and Human: A Study of Magic and its Religious Foundations in Sanskrit Texts, with Particular Attention to a Fragment on Viṣṇu's Māyā Preserved in Bali. Motilal Banarsidass.
J. W. Mackail (1931). Virgil's Magic The Magic of Virgil. By J. Wight Duff. Pp. 31. Newcastle-on-Tyne: Northumberland and Durham Classical Association, 1931. Paper, Is. 6d. The Magical Art of Virgil. By Edward Kennard Rand. Pp. Xii + 458. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press (London: Milford), 1931. Cloth, 21s. [REVIEW] The Classical Review 45 (06):239-240.
Larry A. Hickman (2000). What Was Dewey's “Magic Number?”. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 2000:221-231.
Laurie Zoloth (2002). Reasonable Magic and the Nature of Alchemy: Jewish Reflections on Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research. Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 12 (1):65-93.
Wendy Elgersma Helleman (2011). Plotinus and Magic. International Journal of the Platonic Tradition 4 (2):114-146.
Ronald A. Rensink (2008). Towards a Science of Magic. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 12 (9):349-354.
Marj Jibu & Kunio Yasue (1997). Magic Without Magic: Meaning of Quantum Brain Dynamics. Journal of Mind and Behavior.
Daniel C. Dennett (2003). Explaining the "Magic" of Consciousness. Journal of Cultural and Evolutionary Psychology 1 (1):7-19.
Added to index2010-05-27
Total downloads6 ( #196,681 of 1,096,632 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #265,701 of 1,096,632 )
How can I increase my downloads?