Luhrmann—Persuasions of the Witch’s Craft

Persuasions of the Witch’s Craft: Ritual Magic in Contemporary England

by Tanya Luhrmann

[Luhrmann, Tanya M. 1991. Persuasions of the Witch’s Craft: Ritual Magic in Contemporary England. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.]

Points

  • based on 4 years of participant observation among magicians (Wiccan, Pagan, various occult groups) in London in the 1980s
  • “This study looks at ordinary middle-class English people who become immersed in a netherworld of magic and ritual, and asks a classic anthropological question: why do they practise magic when, according to observers, the magic doesn’t work?” (4).
  • “Magicians are ordinary, well-educated, usually middle-class people. They are not psychotically deluded, and they are not driven to practise by socio­economic desperation. By some process, when they get involved with magic—whatever the reasons that sparked their interest—they learn to find it eminently sensible. They learn to accept its core concept: that mind affects matter, and that in special circumstances, like ritual, the trained imagination can alter thephysical world” (7).
  • “The real issue is not that magicians become comfortable practising an irrational activity, but that when someone becomes a specialist, he finds his practice progressively more persuasive through the very process of interpreting and making sense of his involvement; this changing understanding may become progressively more opaque to outsiders” (7-8).
  • Magical ideas begin to seem normal in the process of becoming a magician: in this way, the involvement is more similar to becoming a certain sort of specialist than to producing a new theory” (312).
  • “How can a magician take his ideas seriously? Part of the answer is that the very process of learning to be a magician elicits systematic changes in the way that the magician interprets events. Interpretation depends upon a complex set of assumptions, biases, conceptual frames, knowledge, heuristics and attributive tendencies—intellectual habits in paying attention, in organizing what one notices, and in remembering it” (115).
  • “There seem to be three outstanding changes in intellectual habits.
    1. The magician learns what events count as evidence that the ritual has worked, and begins to find new patterns in sets of events, to see connections where previously he has only seen coincidence.
    2. Then, he acquires the knowledge shared by fellow practitioners—their common knowledge—which gives a depth and complexity to his practice, and allows him to discriminate between events in new ways, armed with these new categories and distinctions.
    3. Finally, he begins to use a battery of new assumptions—some of them explicitly formulated, others implicit in the conversation—which alter the types of remarks he takes for granted and does not question. The cumulative effect is as if the magician acquires new spectacles.” (115 numeric points added).
  • “I would argue that the rift between magician and non-practitioner is carved out by the very process of becoming a specialist in a particular kind of activity. Becoming a specialist often makes an activity seem sensible. The specialist learns a new way of paying attention to, making sense of and commenting upon her world” (115-16).
  • Becoming this type of specialist is important, “But as, if not more, important are the unsystematic experiences which, although they may have little to do with intellectual analysis, make the magician want to justify the practice, and which motivate him in the end to rationalize his commitment. These are the experiences which create bias” (176).
  • “Certain aspects of magical practice turn it into an engagement which many practitioners find compelling. They find the rituals deeply moving, the pre-ritual ‘homework’ engrossing, they dream with the images of magic’s potent symbols” (177).
  • There are four “distinctive categories of experiential response” to ritual magic practice. (All pg. 179).
    1. meditation and visualization—”the two techniques which magicians always learn upon becoming involved in practice. These are remarkable techniques: they change the practitioner’s phenomenological experience in relatively well-understood ways, and magicians are notably affected by their use.”
    2. magician’s language—”the linguistic style with which magicians describe their rituals and meditations. This style evokes a significant imaginative involvement with the ritual’s narrative and gives the magician concrete experience of the abstract terms of magical theory, like ‘contact’ or ‘power’. At the same time, the magician is told that no understanding of magical theory is complete or accurate: she can have confidence that the term refers to something, but she need not state unequivocally what it is.”
    3. ritual—There are three specific strategies a magician goes through to plan a ritual
      1. He is concerned to create a separate space and time,
      2. to exploit mind-altering techniques like chanting,
      3. and to alter the personality of the ritualist.
        • All these techniques take their central task to be setting ritual apart as something different, to be experienced almost as if it involved a different reality superimposed on the everyday.
    4. symbolism—”The use of symbolism is the most important element of the magician’s magical engagement. Symbolism plays many roles, and evokes many responses, and probably bears most responsibility for magic’s excitement. Magicians invent a mythopoeic history, talk about intimate feelings in symbolic terms, therapeutically reorganize their lives with symbolic ‘archetypes’. They also create a secrecy-shrouded mystery religion and talk of the ‘esoteric knowledge’ which their rites provide.”
  • “Throughout all this, the implication should be clear: magic is far more than a theory, and the pleasures of these other aspects—difficult to verbalize, difficult to forget—wed the magician more strongly than any intellectual analysis to a commitment to the validity of his practice” (179).
  • So… “Systematic changes in the style of intellectual interpretation make the ideas seem more believable; the satisfactions of involvement make the desire to justify the involvement even greater. Nevertheless, despite magic’s growing appeal, at some point in their practice – for some, throughout their practice – magicians confront scepticism, other people’s or their own” (270).
  • “magicians do not produce an elaborate philosophy which would describe all their beliefs, actions and desires as consistent, and substantively rational—oriented towards a genuinely desirable goal in the most effective manner possible. Instead, they justify the inconsistency with a range of arguments and make efforts to separate magic off and make efforts to separate magic off from the mundane by ritual and metaphor. Through practice, theory and styles of arguments, magicians insulate their magic from hostile criticism, real or imagined, and they acquire reasons to explain this separation … People rationalize rather than acting rationally, and strive for local consistency with a patchwork job of post hoc rationalization” (273).
  • “people tend to conceptualize themselves as unitary selves, coherent and all-of-a-piece. In order to understand their actions as part of that self, directed towards an end suitable to that self, they talk about ‘beliefs’ and ‘attitudes’ and ‘desires’, proposition-like assertions which explain why someone performs an action. If you see an aborigine eating grubs, you assume that he believes that the grub is nourishing, delicious, or imbued with sacral power” (307).
  • “In order to function effectively, humans—these interpreters of culture—must act as if humans do not act randomly, but in a way they can learn to anticipate and to which they can learn to respond. This involves attributing to them a set of proposition-like assertions about the state of the world – he is carrying an umbrella, he must believe that it will rain this afternoon – which they maintain over time” (307).

“the ethnography presented on modern magic and the persuasiveness which the practice obtains elicits three observations about belief. Let me summarize” (309).

  1. “First, it is optimistic to think that people have an ordered set of beliefs abouta particular endeavour which forms a consistent set with other beliefs which together describe the totality of thought and action. People are much fuzzier, and more complex, than that. The ethnographer can legitimately identify something like a belief when someone argues for a proposition, at least during the period when they are doing the arguing. But magicians argue in different ways at different times; some of them claim to believe one thing when practising magic, and another thing when not practising magic; others seem to be firmly committed to their practice, and produce arguments about relativism which do not seem entirely plausible in the face of their behaviour. “
  2. “Second, it is hubris—and bad ethnography—to assume that people act first and foremost because they are motivated by belief. The material on modern magic suggests particularly dearly that people often argue for a belief as a means to legitimize, and even to understand—to rationalize—the practice in which they have been involved … If someone goes to church as a regular part of his life, he is likely to argue for a belief in God. If he feels deeply spiritual when praying to God, he is more likely to be persuaded that God exists, for the religious framework provides a way to interpret that unusual feeling.”
  3. Third, magicians have beliefs; it is not true that becoming a magician simply involves learning to speak a new ‘language’ … That is more than a bow towards relativism: the assertion claims that apparently strange beliefs say nothing startling, but simply express conventional beliefs in new and surprisingways. Or, the assertion can be that in becoming a shaman, a Scientologist, a believer in something, someone is simply acquiring new terms to describe new experiences” (309).

interpretive driftslow, often unacknowledged shift in someone’s manner of interpreting events as they become involved with a particular activity. As the newcomer begins to practice, he becomes progressively more skilled at seeing new patterns in events, seeing new sorts of events as significant, paying attention to new patterns … there seems to be a slow, mutual evolution of interpretation and experience, rationalized in a manner which allows the practitioner to practise. The striking feature, I found, was how ad hoc, how seemingly unmotivated, this transformation became. Magicians did not deliberately change the way they thought about the world”

cognitive dissonanceIn the fifties, Leon Festinger (and others) developed a sociological theory of ‘cognitive dissonance’ to understand intellectual discomfort. Its most famous application concerned an American flying saucer cult which predicted that the world would end on 21 December. On 22 December—after the prophetic failure—the adherents began to proselytize, for the first time, claiming that the world had been miraculously redeemed. Festinger interpreted this as an attempt to reconcile their considerable commitment to their belief with the embarrassing evidence of its falsity by creating social support for a somewhat transformed version of it” (271).

Annotation Summary for: Luhrmann – Peruasions of the Witch’s Craft

Page 18, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “This study looks at ordinary middle-class English people who become immersed in a netherworld of magic and ritual, and asks a classic anthropological question: why do they practise magic when, according to observers, the magic doesn’t work?”

Page 18, Stamp (Star (Frame, Red))

Page 20, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “The groups I am discussing are only part of the multifarious occult. Modernmagic is a mixture of many different activities and ideas: paganism, astrology, mysticism, the range of alternative therapies, even kabbalism – a Jewishmysticism grafted onto Christian magical practice in the Renaissance. ”

Page 21, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “And they have two marked characteristics. First, they tolerate a surprising spiritual diversity. The only dogma, they say, is that there is no dogma, and feminist witches, kabbalistic Christians and neo-Nordic shamans socialize well together. Second,they practise what they call magic. They often describe themselves as magicians, perform what they call magical rites, and talk as if they expected those rites to have effects. N”

Page 21, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “While I am interested in the reasons behind the current ‘revival’ of witchcraft, or the explanation of why some people, rather than others, have become involved in practice, an even more interesting question concerns the process that allows people to accept outlandish, apparently irrational beliefs. ‘Belief’ is a difficult term, and I shall try to avoid it until the final chapters. But the question is how people come to make certain assertions and to act as if they were true.”

Page 21, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Magicians are ordinary, well-educated, usually middle-class people. They are not psychotically deluded, and they are not driven to practise by socio­economic desperation. By some process, when they get involved with magic – whatever the reasons that sparked their interest – they learn to find it eminentlysensible. They learn to accept its core concept: that mind affects matter, and that in special circumstances, like ritual, the trained imagination can alter thephysical world. ”

Page 21, Stamp (Star (Frame, Red))

Page 21, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “The real issue is not that magicians become comfortable practising an irrational”

Page 22, Stamp (Star (Frame, Red))

Page 22, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “activity, but that when someone becomes a specialist, he finds his practice progressively more persuasive through the very process of interpreting and making sense of his involvement; this changing understanding may become progressively more opaque to outsiders.”

Page 22, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Why do people find magic persuasive? This, the main theme of the book, has been a central problem in social anthropology since the earliest days of the discipline. It arose because magical rituals seem to be intended to do things which, observers say, they cannot possibly achieve. How do practitioners continue to practise in the face of constant failure? They perform rituals which seem to be about producing an effect, to the anthropologist the rituals cannot possibly produce that effect, and yet the indigenous natives perform the rituals generation after generation. Explaining this puzzle has been the major task ofthe anthropology of religion, for at the bottom of the puzzle, at its inmost core, lies the issue of how people believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven to an unbeliever’s satisfaction. 13 ”

Page 22, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “There have been two major approaches to this problem in the anthropological literature on primitive societies, and though there have been efforts to overturn them, their assumptions still underlie much anthropological thought. Either, it is said, the ritualists are making claims by their rituals, and the claims happen to be false and one’s task is to explain the perpetuation of the falsehood, or the ritualists are not making claims at all, and one’s task is to explain what it is that they are doing. 14 That is, either they really believe that magical theory is correct”

Page 23, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “and they are just deluded – they are forced to cling to their beliefs because the beliefs explain the world (Frazer), or because they have no others (Horton), orbecause they are not psychologically developed enough to see their falsehood (Hallpike), or because they never have to confront their contradictions (Evans­Pritchard) – or, on the other hand, the rituals really have nothing to do with magical theory at all, and it is the observer who is deluded when he thinks that they do. According to this view, rituals are performed because they have certain social effects (functionalists), or they help to order an otherwise incoherent reality (structuralists), or they poetically, aesthetically, devotionally, express (symbolists). Basic to these approaches are two preconceptions about the way to understand magic and ritual”

Page 23, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “The first preconception is that magic, and ritual with an intentional goal, is based upon a theory, upon which the ritualist acts to achieve certain goals. At its most explicit, this assumption takes shape as a direct comparison betweenscientific theory and indigenous practice, with an elaborate sketch of the intricate theoretical permutations in the traditional preliterate religion. Primitive man becomes an amateur scientist. ”

Page 23, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “The second preconception is that ritual should be understood in relation to the social system: how it supports, maintains or expresses the cultural order.”

Page 23, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “In the forties and fifties, when functionalism dominated the disciplinary ethos, fieldworkers assumed that rituals were performed because they served somegeneral cultural end.”

Page 24, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Neither of these approaches struck me as valid. People seemed far fuzzier than that, less coherent and theory conscious than they often think they are, and yet more theory- or at least idea-dependent than many anthropologists would have them be.”

Page 24, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “From a combination of extensive participation, socializing, formal and informal interviews I began to understand how these people came to find their magical practice engaging. There seemed to be something of a paradox: people entered magic with the dim notion that it involved a different, and science-like, theory of reality.”

Page 25, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Through magic, magicians’ perception of their world – what they noticed and experienced – altered, and the way they interpreted these perceptions altered. They did not always recognize that their manner of observing and responding has changed.”

Page 25, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Upon analysis it seemed to me that these behaviours fell naturally into three categories pertinent to the magician’s involvement with his practice. The book is divided into parts on that basis. First, there were certain shifts in the basic perception and analysis of events. When a ritual was performed, the performer began to notice subsequent events in a way that allowed her to conclude that the rite had been successful. They learned to identify certain categories of events as ‘evidence’ for the success of a ritual, criteria so loose that most rituals could be called successfulbut tight enough so that some would be said to ‘fail’. Salience was redefined. ”

Page 25, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Second, there were basic experiential changes which seemed particularly important to the participants. In part these were simply psychological oremotional. Magicians began to meditate and to ‘visualize’, and began to have spiritual, emotional and physical experiences which they found moving. Some of these experiences were specific physiological experiences which often arose from particular practices – out-of-body phenomena, or the relaxation engendered by meditative technique. ”

Page 26, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Third, there seemed to be common intellectual strategies to handle the disjunction between involvement in magic and in what magicians called science, or the scientific way of understanding. Magicians seemedto feel that the larger society around them assumed the incompatibility. Thatmagicians felt uneasy about practising magic was clear: that they resorted to particular strategies to reduce their uneasiness was quite interesting. ”

Page 26, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “I turn finally to the way these different elements work together, a process I call ‘interpretive drift’: the slow shift in someone’s manner of interpretingevents, making sense of experiences, and responding to the world. P”

Page 26, Highlight (Yellow): Content: “‘interpretive drift’:”

Page 26, Highlight (Cyan): Content: ” there seems to be a slow, mutual evolution ofinterpretation and experience, rationalized in a manner which allows the practitioner to practise. The striking feature, I found, was how ad hoc, how seemingly unmotivated, this transformation became. Magicians did not deliberately change the way they thought about the world. ”

Page 27, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “The other striking feature of the process was the centrality of play. Magic gives magicians the opportunity to play- a serious play, but nevertheless a rule­defined, separate context in which they identify with their imaginative conceptions, and act out the fantasies and visions of another world.”

Page 27, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “The broad question at the theoretical centre of this inquiry is the nature of rationality and irrationality, and the basic form of human cognition.”

Page 29, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “This is a work of psychological anthropology, in which the subject is the mercurial complexity of belief.”

Page 30, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Whether the claims that magical rituals can alter physical reality are true ornot is beside the point of the present essay. ”

Page 30, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Very intelligent, thoughtful people often find themselves on different sides of anargument. Many if not all such arguments are undecidable, in the sense thatpeople go on arguing about them indefinitely, often convinced that they themselves are in the right, often armed with ‘evidence’ that their interlocutors understand differently. Neither here nor elsewhere in the book shall I considerthe question of whether the rituals might work, and whether the strange forces and abilities spoken of in magic might actually exist. Magical ideas are not incontestably true; neither are they incontestably false, just as libertarianism and Christianity are not necessarily the true, or even the best, perspective on reality. ”

Page 30, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “as an anthropologist, I wanted to understand what it was to be an insider, I had to be an insider. And that meant no microphone, no note-taking, no questionnaires. Very, very occasionally, I taped a conversation.”

Page 30, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “But I was fortunate, because magicians themselves made recordings – of ritual reports, or discussions that superseded rituals – and some of these I was allowed to borrow.”

Page 145, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Introduction: the magician’s changing intellectual habits”

Page 145, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “H OW can a magician take his ideas seriously? Part of the answer is thatthe very process oflearning to be a magician elicits systematic changes in the way that the magician interprets events. Interpretation depends upon a complex set of assumptions, biases, conceptual frames, knowledge, heuristics and attributive tendencies – intellectual habits in paying attention, in organizing what one notices, and in remembering it. ”

Page 145, Stamp (Star (Frame, Red))

Page 145, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “There seem to be three outstanding changes in intellectual habits. The magician learns what events count as evidence that the ritual has worked, and begins to find new patterns in sets of events, to see connections where previously he has only seen coincidence. Then, he acquires the knowledge shared by fellow practitioners – their common knowledge – which gives a depth and complexity to his practice, and allows him to discriminate between events in new ways, armed with these new categories and distinctions. Finally, he begins to use a battery of new assumptions – some of them explicitly formulated, others implicit in the conversation – which alter the types of remarks he takes for granted and does not question. The cumulative effect is as if the magician acquires new spectacles, with a different focus on the buzzing confusion ofJamesian reality, and slo”

Page 145, Stamp (Star (Frame, Red))

Page 145, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “I would argue that the rift between magician and non-practitioner is carved out by the very process”

Page 146, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “of becoming a specialist in a particular kind of activity. Becoming a specialist often makes an activity seem sensible. The specialist learns a new way of paying attention to, making sense of and commenting upon her world.”

Page 146, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “There are new ways to define evidence which offer grounds to the expert that the non-specialist cannot see, and ways to order events so that the specialist sees coherence where the non-specialist sees only chaos; there is a semi-explicit philosophy which creates the assump­ tions which frame most conversation.”

Page 146, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “The new ways of noticing, encoding, remembering, perceiving, not only alter the way events are observed, but also affect which ideas and theories seem plausible.”

Page 146, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “rather than realizing that their intellectual habits have changed they feel that they have discovered that the ideas behind magic are objectively true.”

Page 147, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “THE IDEAS BEHIND MAGICAL PRACTICE”

Page 147, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Modern magic rests upon the idea that thought can affect matter without theintervention of the thinker’s acts. The first step in the reasoning is to argue that the two, thought and matter, are essentially one.”

Page 147, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Knight, the Greystone adept, writes scathingly of Descartes’ ‘arbitrary assumptions’, and states that: The most glaring assumption upon which all modem science is based (except perhaps in cenain areas of advanced atomic physics) is that there is an absolute dichotomy between mind and matter, between subjective and objective, between the observer and the phenomenon observed. It is, in fact, no more than a useful fiction. 3″

Page 148, Highlight (Cyan): Content: ” Themagician’s world is an interdependent whole, a web of which n

Page 148, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Most magicians – all I have encountered – accept the existence ofparapsychological effects: communicating without speech or sight, moving objects without touch, sensing the future or the past. Magicians commonlyaccept that psychic ability, like the ability to play the violin, is distributed differently by nature, but they assert that all people can improve their skill with practice. ”

Page 149, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “So magicians tend to conceptualize reality as a dynamic flux shot through with subtle forces and unknown energies.”

Page 150, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “To some extent I have inferred these ideas from scattered passages in magicians’ own writings. Some magicians, however, explicitly try to order and explain these concepts as a theory in the books they write for newcomers. In one such book, entitled Techniques of High Magic: A Manual ofSelf-Initiation, the authors list ‘four fundamental theoretical assumptions’ of magic: ”

Page 151, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “1 That the universe of the physical scientist is only a part, and by no means the most important part, of total reality. 2 That human will power is a real force, capable of being trained and concentrated, and that the disciplined will is capable of changing its environment and producing supernormal effects. 3 That this will power must be directed by the imagination. 4 That the universe is not a mixture of chance factors and influences, but an ordered system of correspondences, and that the understanding of the pattern of correspondences enables the occultist to use them for his own purposes, good or ill. 11”

Page 205, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Introduction: working intuitively 13”

Page 206, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “INTRODUCTION”

Page 206, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “We have seen that becoming a magician, becoming a specialist in magic, resultsin systematic changes in the structure of interpretation itself. A new definition of evidence, new assumptions, new common knowledge – these changes systematically alter the way yet-to-be-interpreted events are noticed, organized and analysed”

Page 206, Highlight (Cyan): Content: ” But as, if not more, important are the unsystematic experiences which, although they may have little to do with intellectual analysis, make the magician want to justify the practice, and which motivate him in the end torationalize his commibnent. These are the experiences which create bias.”

Page 207, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Certain aspects of magical practice tum it into an engagement which many practitioners find compelling. They find the rituals deeply moving, the pre-ritual ‘homework’ engrossing, they dream with the images of magic’s potent symbols.”

Page 207, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “The line between magic and religion has always been uncertain. Anthropologists have treated magic both as religion’s precursor and as the individualistic offspring of collective religious ecstacy. 1 My impression of modem magicians is that many of them began to understand their practice as a religion only after they had been practising for some time. ”

Page 207, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Geertz’s avoids the difficulty of demanding propositional belief: [Religion is] a system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive and long­ lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating conceptions of a general order ofexistence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic.3”

Page 208, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “In the last analysis, the magician is probably more concerned to repeat and to make sense of moving experience than to prove any ‘theory’ true.”

Page 208, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Just because you have a profound experience during prayer, it does not mean that God exists. But people often find the distinction hard to handle: they tend to accept the magical or theological ideas because the involvement – the spirituality, the group meetings, the moving symbols, the sheer fun of the practice – becomes so central to their lives. If they experience Levy-Bruhlian participation, they tend to explain it by adopting a Frazerian theory.”

Page 208, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Magical rituals rarely achieve their material goals with blatant, manifest success. Magicians make interpretative accommodations which give the rites more apparent validity, as the last section discussed. But magic is clearly a different sort of enterprise than firing a gun or moving a table, where the empirical consequences of action are obvious.”

Page 209, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “I have tried to dissect the various components of magical experience with care, and what I see as four distinctive categories of experiential response form the division into four chapters. The first, on meditation and visualization, explains the two techniques which magicians always learn upon becoming involved in practice. These are remarkable techniques: they change the practitioner’s phenomenological experience in relatively well-understood ways, and magicians are notably affected by their use. The second, on magician’slanguage, discusses the linguistic style with which magicians describe their rituals and meditations. This style evokes a significant imaginative involvement with the ritual’s narrative and gives the magician concrete experience of the abstract terms of magical theory, like ‘contact’ or ‘power’. At the same time, the magician is told that no understanding of magical theory is complete or accurate: she can have confidence that the term refers to something, but she need not state unequivocally what it is. The third, on ritual, discusses the magician’s strategies in constructing rituals. There are three, in particular: he is concerned to create a separate space and time, to exploit mind-altering techniques like chanting, and to alter the personality of the ritualist. All these techniques take their central task to be setting ritual apart as something different, to be experienced almost as if it involved a different reality superimposed on the everyday. The fourth chapter, the most complex, centres upon symbolism. The use of symbolism is the most important element of the magician’s magical engagement. Symbolism plays many roles, and evokes many responses, and probably bears most responsibility for magic’s excitement. Magicians invent a mythopoeic history, talk about intimate feelings in symbolic terms, therapeutically reorganize their lives with symbolic ‘archetypes’. They also create a secrecy-shrouded mystery religion and talk of the ‘esoteric knowledge’ which their rites provide. Throughout all this, the implication should be clear: magic is far more than a theory, and the pleasures of these other aspects – difficult to verbalize, difficult to forget – wed the magician more strongly than any intellectual analysis to a commitment to the validity of his practice. ”

Page 297, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “18 Introduction: coping with the dissonance”

Page 300, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “People who are not questioned need not develop answers. Magicians live in a society in which their magic is intellectually rejected and socially disavowed – it is one thing to read your horoscope, it is another thing to have your boss stand naked in his living room and invoke Hermes for a more efficient secretary – and yet they make a conscious choice to practise magic.”

Page 300, Highlight (Cyan): Content: ” The last two parts of the book have illustrated the ways in which magical practice, and the ideas behind it, becomes persuasive. Systematic changes in the style of intellectual interpretation make the ideas seem more believable; the satisfactions ofinvolvement make the desire to justify the involvement even greater. ”

Page 300, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Nevertheless, despite magic’s growing appeal, at some point in their practice – for some, throughout their practice – magicians confront scepticism, other people’s or their own.”

Page 300, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “given the ~elf-consciousness of these sophisticated, educatedLondoners, one might have thought that they would be anxious to defendmagical practice as an activity as rational and as acceptable as, say, modern medicine. Often they do not. Magicians do not search, exhaustively, to prove an elaborate theory true, nor do they abandon their claims when they find itdifficult to convince sceptical outsiders within conventional intellectual canons. They adjust the canons to adapt to the unusual claims – they say that all truths are relative, or that science is valid only in a mundane context – and explain why their belief is personally fulfilling for spiritual, psychological or aesthetic reasons. ”

Page 300, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “They describe the claims and the practice as different from ordinary endeavours, set apart as separate and thus not amenable to critique.”

Page 300, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “This ability to set the practice apart, to compartmentalize it, is crucial. It allows magicians to explain their involvement without having to defend the magic directly and to defend the magic without having to abandon previously held intellectual commitments.”

Page 301, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “This patchwork rationalization can be clarified through the concept of cognitive dissonance – an old-fashioned term in psychological circles, but one that captures well the intellectual uneasiness created through the adherence to magic, and the attempts to alleviate it.”

Page 301, Highlight (Yellow): Content: “cognitive dissonance ”

Page 301, Highlight (Cyan): Content: ” In the fifties, Leon Festinger (and others) developed a sociological theory of ‘cognitive dissonance’ to understand intellectual discomfort. Its most famous application concerned an American flying saucer cult which predicted that the world would end on 21 December. On 22 December – after the prophetic failure – the adherents began to proselytize, for the first time, claiming that the world had been miraculously redeemed. Festinger interpreted this as an attempt to reconcile theirconsiderable commitment to their belief with the embarrassing evidence of its falsity by creating social support for a somewhat transformed version of it. 2″

Page 301, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “In Festinger’s more general theory, dissonance, roughly, is the ill fit between intellectual concepts and actual behaviour, incompatible ‘elements’ of one person’s mental universe.”

Page 301, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “The central tenet of Festinger’s theory is that individuals strive to reducedissonance. ‘The reality which impinges upon a person will exert changes in thedirection of bringing the appropriate cognitve elements into correspondencewith that reality’.4 ”

Page 302, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “the smoker has considerable self-interest in survival, and would probably claim that more knowledge is always better. By avoiding information about tobacco’s harms, he acts against his own interests and beliefs, but avoids undermining his self-confidence the next time he pulls out a cigarette.”

Page 302, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “In a society that values cognitive consistency and goal-directed action, magicians of ten feel pressure – internal or external – to justify theirinvolvement. 7 This is particularly a problem of modern magic: simple, straight­forward explanations of the causal effects of magic are rejected by their social environment, and they feel the need to produce others. ”

Page 302, Highlight (Cyan): Content: ” magicians do not produce an elaborate philosophy which would describe all their beliefs, actions and desires as consistent, and substantively rational – oriented towards a genuinely”

Page 303, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “desirable goal in the most effective manner possible. Instead, they justify the inconsistency with a range of arguments and make efforts to separate magic off and make efforts to separate magic off from the mundane by ritual and metaphor.”

Page 303, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Through practice, theory and styles of arguments, magicians insulate their magic from hostile criticism, real or imagined, and they acquire reasons to explain this separation. People rationalize rather than acting rationally, and strive consistency with a patchwork job of post hoc rationalization. ”

Page 303, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “The following two chapters describe, first, an intellectual metaphor which magicians adopt in order to separate magic from the non-magical, and second, the magician’sstyles of rationalizing arguments, the ways in which magicians self-consciously learn to order their dissonant reality by disassembling it into separate boxes identified by different claims.”

Page 337, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “21 Interpretive drift: the slow shift towards belief”

Page 337, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “I MAGINE yourself suddenly set down – Malinowski’s famous phrase1 – society of whose ways you know nothing, but which you must describe to the culture from which you come. This, more or less what anthropologists do, magnifies the day to day encounter between two strangers. From a small number of remarks and gestures, one person builds up a sense of what the other person is like, which affects the way he responds to her and describes her to his friends.”

Page 337, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “people tend to conceptualize themselves as unitary selves, coherent and all-of-a-piece. In order to understand their actions as part of that self, directed towards an end suitable to that self, they talk about ‘beliefs’ and ‘attitudes’ and ‘desires’, proposition-like assertions which explain why someone performs an action.”

Page 337, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “If you see an aborigine eating grubs, you assume that he believes that the grub is nourishing, delicious, or imbued with sacral power.”

Page 337, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “In order to function effectively, humans – these interpreters of culture – mustact as if humans do not act randomly, but in a way they can learn to anticipate and to which they can learn to respond. This involves attributing to them a set of proposition-like assertions about the state of the world – he is carrying an umbrella, he must believe that it will rain this afternoon – which they maintain over time.”

Page 338, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “it is simple and more pleasing – a convenient shorthand – to describe an action as directed by a belief rather than by a complex, perpetually changing set of environmental cues.”

Page 338, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Particularly in post-Enlightenment culture, enriched by the legacy of Kantian epistemology and Weberian sociology, we assume that a person’s beliefs should be consistent.”

Page 338, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “The very term ‘belief system’ underlines the hold which the assumption of cognitive consistency has upon the culture.”

Page 338, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “But there are problems, even from within philosophy. One could argue that many beliefs are logically inconsisent, that people manipulate their own beliefs, and that the manipulation and inconsistency may be useful. If the fox cannot get the grapes he desires, he calls them sour.”

Page 338, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Elster (1979: 50). ”

Page 338, Highlight (Cyan): Content: ” Elster sides with Williams to explain induced belief. He states: ‘Williams has argued convincingly that even if it is possible to believe p, one cannot both believe p and believe that the belief that p stems from a decision to believe p. If the decision to believe pis carried out successfully, it must also obliterate itself from the memory of the believer … The loss of the critical faculty is not simply a by-produa of self-induced faith, but an essential condition for that faith to be held seriously.’ ”

Page 339, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “the ethnography presented on modern magic and the persuasiveness which the practice obtains elicits three observations about belief. Let me summarize.”

Page 339, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “First, it is optimistic to think that people have an ordered set of beliefs abouta particular endeavour which forms a consistent set with other beliefs which together describe the totality of thought and action. People are much fuzzier, and more complex, than that. The ethnographer can legitimately identify something like a belief when someone argues for a proposition, at least duringthe period when they are doing the arguing. But magicians argue in different ways at different times; some of them claim to believe one thing when practising magic, and another thing when not practising magic; others seem to be firmly committed to their practice, and produce arguments about relativism which do not seem entirely plausible in the face of their behaviour. ”

Page 340, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Second, it is hubris – and bad ethnography – to assume that people act first and foremost because they are motivated by belief. The material on modernmagic suggests particularly dearly that people often argue for a belief as ameans to legitimize, and even to understand – to rationalize – the practice in which they have been involved. If someone goes to church as a regular part of his life, he is likely to argue for a belief in God. If he feels deeply spiritual when praying to God, he is more likely to be persuaded that God exists, for the religious framework provides a way to interpret that unusual feeling.”

Page 340, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Third, magicians have beliefs; it is not true that becoming a magician simply involves learning to speak a new ‘language’.”

Page 340, Highlight (Cyan): Content: ” That is more than a bow towards relativism: the assertion claims that apparently strange beliefs say nothing startling, but simply express conventional beliefs in new and surprisingways. Or, the assertion can be that in becoming a shaman, a Scientologist, a believer in something, someone is simply acquiring new terms to describe new experiences. ”

Page 341, Highlight (Cyan): Content: ” there is no clearly marked threshold, no singly persuasive incident, no new explanation of anomalous events, that catalyses the movement away from some more commonly acceptable manner of viewing the world. ”

Page 342, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “this was a realization achieved slowly. Magical ideas begin to seem normal in the process of becoming a magician: in this way, the involvement is more similarto becoming a certain sort of specialist than to producing a new theory. ”

Page 342, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “I call this ‘interpretive drift’ – the slow, often unacknowledged shift insomeone’s manner of interpreting events as they become involved with aparticular activity. As the newcomer begins to practice, he becomes progressivelymore skilled at seeing new patterns in events, seeing new sorts of events as significant, paying attention to new patterns. ”

Page 342, Highlight (Yellow): Content: ” ‘interpretive drift'”

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Page 342, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “What elements contribute to this drift? This material has suggested that there are three loosely interlocked transformations which together propel change from one manner of understanding to another: interpretation, experience and”

Page 343, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “rationalization.”

Page 343, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “The new magician learns to identify evidence for magic’s power, to see patterns in events, to explain the success orfailure of the rites. She acquires a host of knowledge, which enables her to distinguish between events and to associate them to other events in ways not done earlier. She becomes accustomed to particular assumptions about the constitution of her world. These are changes which affect the structure of her intellectual analysis, the form of the arguments she finds appealing. ”

Page 343, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “The magician slowly gains a sense of mastery over the material, and with that sense comes a sense of naturalness and pleasure in using the ideas to interpret one’s world.”

Page 343, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Then there are experiential changes, which are not so systematic. Themagician becomes immersed in new experiences – new phenomenologicalexperiences, a vivid imaginative engagement, a world awash with personally powerful symbolism. She participates in rituals that are designed to make herfeel quite unlike her normal self. And her fantasies change, her dreams become intense, she reads novels in new ways. There are four distinctively different types of experience, with different effects: there are the new feelings and responses, which need to be comprehended; imaginative intensity which gives experiential content to otherwise contentless words; self-manipulation in ritual practice which makes that other world realistic; and symbolism, which dominates the magician’s imagination, surrounds his practice with secretive mystery, and provides a mythology when one seems lacking. ”

Page 343, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “The point about these experiential involvements is that they must be”

Page 344, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “interpreted and rationalized. ”

Page 344, Highlight (Cyan): Content: ” They become deeply pleasing to the participants, the participants associate them with magical practice, and they remember andjustify the experiences through the ideas with which they are associated. Theinvolvements are personal and private: they become intrinsic to the way the individual experiences and conceptualizes his inner life. ”

Page 344, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “To believe in God because one has had a spiritual experience is quite unnecessary; one could, and on the grounds of parsimony, should, explain the experience by commonplace physiology. But people find it unsatisfactory to interpret spirituality as a biophysical capacity, elicited by technique, with God as a metaphor for certain ways of thinking and acting.”

Page 344, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Finally, there are rationalizations. Intellectual habits and experiences are interdependent. The magician makes sense of a powerful experience in ritual by searching for evidence that it has worked; that gives him confidence in further involvement in the practice, and his experiences intensify. But the ideasassociated with the practice not only come to seem more reasonable through the practice; they also serve to justify the practice, and if forced, practitioners will go to lengths to maintain them as a means of def ending their involvement, even if this is not logically necessary to explain their feelings. ”

Page 345, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “This is not, quite, a socialization process. The term ‘socialization’ implies a process in which the practice of socializing itself produces the primary effects. Much of this study has been an effort to point out how solitary the magical involvement can be, and how much of it happens within the private self – albeit inner personal experience depends upon external social interaction. The spirituality, the vivid imaginative experience – these feelings and experiences are extremely significant in persuading magicians of the worth and power oftheir magical involvement. ”

Page 345, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “It is more that a transformation of experience leads magicians to have ever more faith and ease in certain ways of talking about their world.”

Page 345, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “magicians specifically say that symbols transcend verbal”

Page 346, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “limitations, that they engage the psyche’s pre-verbal core, that the ‘secrets of the Mysteries’ lie in experience, not intellectual knowledge, and cannot be communicated because the words cannot encase them.”

Page 346, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “The interpretive drift which relies upon the individual’s dreams and life cannot be understood as a pale variant of a socialized language. In fact, the interesting observation is how little verbalization enters into theinterpretive drift at all. Most of the intellectual habits are not self-consciouslyintroduced into magician’s conversations. They are often not recognized by the magicians themselves. They happen, so to speak, below the tidal mark of verbalarticulation, as the newcomer becomes comfortable with his practice.”

Page 347, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Magicians enter magic with a vague notion that the practice is based on the claim that the mind can directly affect the outer world. They then get involved in the practice, immersing themselves in books and rituals, dreams and meditations and learning about the tarot. The magic becomes a mixture ofinventive scholarship and mystical religion, a surfeit of ideas and feelings which are hard to articulate and to understand apart from the practice. Part oflearning to be a magician involves changing the implicit assumptions, pattern-finding and knowledge-defining habits which make magical ideas seem plausible,”

Page 350, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “weakened from disuse. As Evans-Pritchard had done among the Azande, I had little difficulty running my life in accordance with magical techniques, by tarot cards, astrological charts and the like – though I rarely allowed them to violate my common sense perceptions of a situation. I enjoyed the practice.”

Page 350, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “The only reason I continued to think of myself as an anthropologist, rather than as a witch, was that I had a strong disincentive against asserting that rituals had an effect upon the material world.”

Page 350, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “The anthropologist is meant to become involved, but not native.”

Page 351, Highlight (Cyan): Content: ” to reiterate the general conclusions of this chapter, this material challenges three widely held assumptions. First, it challenges the assumptionthat people have coherent, clear-cut sets of beliefs. People often talk as if they had a particular set of beliefs which is ordered and coherent: this is often the assumption behind talk of’rationality’. Yet as this material amply demonstrates, people argue for different visions at different times, or their views can be inconsistent with other views, and they themselves are uneasy about what it means to ‘believe’. Second, it undermines the assumption that people act on their beliefs, that beliefS are prior to action. This material also suggests that people invoke beliefs to justify their action, that they rationalize previous action by referring to rationales which they describe as beliefs. Third, this materialalso attacks a common loose relativist argument advanced by some anthro­pologists, that when people adopt a strange practice, they are not so much acquiring beliefs but language, simply a different way of expressing views about the world. This is clearly not the case. Magicians are acquiring new assumptions, new ways of viewing the world; although the term ‘belief’ is not crystalline, the point of the word is that it involves some commitment to an”

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Page 352, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “assertion about the world. Becoming a magician is not like learning French.20”

Page 352, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Durkheim described the origin of religion amongst the Australian Arunta (his test case for primitive man) thus: The dispersed condition in which society finds itself [when gathering and hunting] results in making its life uniform, languishing and dull. But when a corrobori [ritual gathering] takes place, everything changes … When they are at once come together, a sort of electricity is formed by their collecting which at once transports them to an extraordinary degree of exaltation … as such active passions, so free from all control, could not fail to burst out, on every side one hears nothing but violent gestures, cries, veritable howls, and deafening noises of every sort, which aid in intensifying still more the state of mind which they manifest . . . How could such experiences as these, especially when they are repeated every day for weeks, fail to leave in him the conviction that there really exist two heterogeneous and mutually incompatible worlds?22”

Page 353, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “magicians have odd, moving experiences which they make sense of in magical terms. Their imaginative world becomes filled with vivid magical images. Like the Arunta in this model, magicians identify that newness as separate, aided by the theatrical separation of the magical in ritual and by the intellectual separation that describes the magic as being upon a different plane.”

Page 367, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “23 Final Thoughts WHY MAGICIANS PRACTISE MAGIC: THE ROMANTIC RATIONALIST’S RELIGION”

Page 367, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Why, in the end, do magicians practise magic? My fmdings suggest that the people who tum to modem magic are searching for powerful emotional and imaginative religious experience, but not for a religion per se.”

Page 368, Highlight (Cyan): Content: ” reason often given to explain the occult renaissance is the recentsurge of religious enthusiasm. It is widely claimed that the last decades have been a period of religious reawakening, in which many people have found themselves following what they call a spiritual or religious quest. ”

Page 369, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Part of the explanation is simple. The ‘occult revival’ has more to do with a commercial success story than an alienated or religiously enthused society, a fad which was able to pass some threshold of visibility and now appeals to people because it meets some basic need for spiritual, imaginative, emotional play in a remarkably tolerant cultural milieu.”

Page 369, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “The countercultural 1960s turned to occultism – to astrology, tarot, and alternative healing and eating-because they were alternatives to the established culture: many people discovered tarot cards at about the same time they discovered beansprouts.”

Page 371, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Being involved with magic is not like converting to a new religion; involvement is not so much a conscious decision to adopt a belief and then a practice as a slow persuasion of the value of the practice.”

Page 371, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “I have suggested that magicians may rationalize their involvement by means of an intellectual strategy that allows them to remain ambivalent about their commitment, and further that this style of rationalization is shared by some modem Christian theologians, and probably by other practitioners of hard-to­ defend involvements. This intellectual strategy of ambivalence seems common in our self-conscious, rationalistic society: it seems not unlikely that magic is appealing partly because it so evidently relies upon this sort of intellectual strategy.”

Page 372, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “intellectual anarchy,”

Page 374, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Magicians seem radically unlike the rest of English culture, an enclave of Azande on the Homsey Rise. But they are simply a more flamboyant instance of the conceptual cacophany of contemporary culture, of the scientist who spends Sunday in the church and weekdays in the lab, the moralist who preaches to his children but poaches from his boss.”

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Page 374, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “The flamboyant talk and action of the magicians illustrate what many people prefer to ignore – the ease with which we all come to see a given view as valid, and the skills we gain in explaining it so that its limitations, biases, and contradictions with other views need never seem apparent.”

Page 375, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “WHAT WE LEARN: ANTHROPOLOGICAL APPROACHES”

Page 375, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “To explain apparently bizarre action, one looks first to belief – and then to experience. As I see it, two basic preconceptions have coloured the understanding of magic and ritual, and though there have been efforts to overturn them they still underlie much anthropological thought. The first is that magic, and rituals with intentions, must be understood as based on a theory, upon which the ritualist acts to achieve certain goals.”

Page 375, Highlight (Cyan): Content: ” The other preconception, in tensionwith the first, is that rituals should be explained through their impact on the social system, and the way the rite supports, maintains and expresses the cultural order. Here ritual is exegetically prior to belief. But still the experience of involvement is shoved aside. Where the one assumption lays the stress uponcultural ideas, the other emphasizes social organization. ”

Page 375, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “These concerns have been crystallized in what to most anthropologists is known as the rationality debate.”

Page 375, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “The immediate precursor of what came to be known as the ‘rationality debate’ is one monograph: Evans-Pritchard’s account of Azande witchcraft.16”

Page 376, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “In the study, Evans-Pritchard was implicitly attacking the theories of Levy­ Bruhl, That philosopher was intrigued by the reports of primitive beliefs then arousing much Parisian interest, accounts of totemism and peculiar rituals, of apparently contradictory beliefs and incoherent ideas. He argued that the thought of primitive man was different not in degree but in quality from his civilized counterpart. Theprimitive did not think less well or less reasonably: he started from differentassumptions, noticed different things about the world, and was untroubled by the contradictions in some of the conclusions to which this led him. Above all he experienced his environment by ‘participation’, subtitled mystical drunken­ness, an affective bond with the natural world around him. ‘His mind does more than present his object to him: it possesses it and is possessed by it. It communes with it and participates in it, not only in the ideological, but also in the physical and mystic sense of the word.’19”

Page 376, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “To Levy-Bruhl primitive man had”

Page 377, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “a ‘pre-logical and mystic’ mentality, governed by the law of participation, which paid little heed to contradiction. 20”

Page 377, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “The thrust of Evans-Pritchard’s attack was to take Levy-Brohl seriously- he claimed that he was one of few Anglo-Saxons to do so – and to demonstrate that the difference between civilized and primitive lay not in some qualitative distinction but in the different intellectual context in which their thought occurred.”

Page 377, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Evans-Pritchard agreed with Levy-Bruhl that the pattern of thought within any society must be explained as part of the culture; he agreed that the apparent strangeness of primitive customs became meaningful when understood within the overall pattern of ideas and behaviour. But he fundamentally disagreed that the Azande were somehow radically different from Westerners in the way they understood and experienced their world.”

Page 377, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Their apparent differences had to do with differences in the social context of their intellectual analysis.”

Page 377, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “They failed to notice contradictions in their system of thought because they never abstracted across contexts, but asked about witchcraft in specific situations. They asked why this particular man fell ill, not whether the logical implications of a series of witchcraft attributions were consistent. ”

Page 377, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Subsequent anthropologists have tended to follow this route with increasing sophistication, explaining that if one understood the social context in which people spoke, then their magical and ritual remarks would no longer seem irrational. Two poles of debate were established: the intellectualist, which explained magic as based upon mistaken belief, and the symbolist, which explained away the magic by showing how it had little to do with belief.”

Page 377, Highlight (Yellow): Content: “intellectualist, symbolist,”

Page 377, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Tylor and Frazer are claimed, post hoc, as the canonical intellectualists: they held that magic arose out of natural thought processes and observation, and differed from science primarily in being wrong.”

Page 377, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Tylor spoke of a primitive man who ‘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 he concluded that association in thought must involve similar connection in”

Page 378, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “reality’. 22”

Page 378, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Nearly a century after Tylor, Horton argued that African traditional thought served as a theory of the natural world which acquired magic-like characteristics because it was, as it were, the only system available.”

Page 378, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Horton’s primary aim was to demonstrate that magic – or, more generally, ‘traditional thinking’ was an explanation of the physical world (although not necessarily aimed at controlling the physical worlc!).”

Page 378, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “The symbolist approach is usually attributed to Durkheim and, as Skorupski explains, it has three significant diffetences from intellectualism.26 Science is sharply distinguished from magic or religion; that difference lies in the latter’sbeing a symbolic system (often, to express something about the social order); this difference demands that one distinguish between the literal meaning and the symbolic meaning of magico-religious remarks, which are aesthetic, expressive uses of metaphor and analogy and are not true or false. ”

Page 378, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Leach pressed hard the expressive, symbolic dimensions of all action, particularly of ritual. ‘Ritual action and belief are alike to be understood as forms of symbolic statements about the social order’.27”

Page 378, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Douglas asserted that rituals and symbols gained their force from the strain within the natural and social classificatoryorder. Dirt is matter out of place, and rituals and beliefs emerge to handle the anxiety created by these inevitable violations of the ordered schemes through which the world is understood.28”

Page 378, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Beattie announced that magic and religion did have instrumental purposes, but that they were better understood throughcomparison to art than to physics. He contrasted symbolic, expressive behaviour, like ritual, with practical, instrumental science, and claimed thatwhereas hypothesis-testing was basic to the second, it was irrelevant to the first”

Page 378, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Lewis is perhaps the best example of the view that magical rituals are about sheer phenomenological experience, and can be interpreted”

Page 379, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “neither for their communicative nor instrumental value. When the anthro­pologist approaches magic, he fails to see it in its sensual, experiential context, and his failure to see that context makes it seem strange; he imputes belief to those who practice which they may not have; he fails to see the mixture ofmetaphorical and literal interpretation in the words. Anthropologists, then, are responsible for the seeming strangeness of many magical claims.30”

Page 379, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Sperberargued that symbolism and apparently irrational beliefs arise when the individual confronts information which cannot be processed in the usual manner. ‘”

Page 379, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Tambiah adapted Austin’s linguistic philosophy to assert that magical acts are ‘perfonnative’ in nature.”

Page 379, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “The performative utterance does not assert a proposition that can be judged true or false; rather, the utterance itself did something, was intended to act in some way in the world.”

Page 379, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Tambiah argued that magical statements should be understood as performative actions rather than as scientifically instrumental actions, and be judged accordingly.32”

Page 379, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Skorupski, who made a detailed and philosophically acute exploration of these different positions, argued for a realist literalism: for an interpretation of ritual in which the statements are taken at face value and assumed to reflect a belief in the divine beings they describe.34”

Page 379, Highlight (Yellow): Content: “realist literalism:”

Page 380, Highlight (Cyan): Content: ” Winch argued that when Evans-Pritchard described Azande beliefs as false and unscientific, he failed to understand his own material. The very concept of science, Winchclaimed, was culture-bound. There is, he said, no access to an objective, knowable reality. The European cannot claim himself ‘right’ and the Azande ‘wrong’: they are playing different language games. 39″

Page 380, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Macintyre attacked by”

Page 381, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “announcing that our ability to communicate with the Azande implied a shared human framework within which Westerners could assert a more ‘rational’interpretation of the physical world. Statements have meaning within a context, but one can understand that context and evaluate it accordingly. ‘Beliefs and concepts are not merely to be evaluated by the criteria implicit in the practice of those who hold and use them’.40 ”

Page 381, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Several volumes of collected essays appeared,41 dominated by two separate but interrelated issues: first, could Westerners claim to translate accurately the thought of another culture, and if so, could they claim a superior rationality? Rephrased, the second issue took science as its icon. Was magic an attempt at being science, and was it just less good, or was it a different kind of enterprise, with different goals to manage?42”

Page 381, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Much of the powerful and significant philosophy of the recent twentieth century has had to do with belief, interpretation and meaning: Davidson’s radical interpretation, Putnam’s accounts of meaning and rationality, Quine’s two dogmas and the indeterminancy of translation, Wittgenstein’s slowly influential account of meaning and the use of words. Hacking, for example, speaks oflearning from Davidson in order to argue that in translating from another culture, the possibility of a proposition’struth or falsity might depend on whether the translator had suitable ways to reason about it; Lukes takes Davidson on directly for his ‘method’ oftranslation. 43 ”

Page 382, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “The primary difficulty with the rationality debate is that much of it has assumed the existence of clear cut, coherent beliefs.”

Page 382, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “The primary difficulty with the rationality debate is that much of it has assumed the existence of clear cut, coherent beliefs. As a result, it hasprejudged the issues, and the basic conception of the problem of irrational action has been ill-formed. ”

Page 382, Highlight (Cyan): Content: ” In its crude fonn the symbolist – intellectualist debate sets up two straw men, the one with his articulate theory like a banner before him, and the other with no beliefs at all but an emotive, expressive, socially apt poesis. On the one side there is the pseudo-scientist, clear, intellectually coherent, acting on the basis – of prior beliefs. On the other, there is the intellectually vacuous but metaphorically rich emoter, whose actions carry no cognitive relevance. ”

Page 382, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Because the debate was framed in an almost binary fashion – either magic has mostly to do with belief, or it has little to do with belief – the difficulty in arguing about belief has become apparent.”

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Page 383, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “This work on magic has suggested that beliefs are not the sorts of things they are stereotypically assumed to be: propositional commitments held consciously and claimed consistently and in a logical relationship to other such commitments.”

Page 385, Highlight (Cyan): Content: ” One of the most pertinent lessons of this ethnography on magic is that involvement entails very particular sorts of”

Page 386, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “experience, and that these can be identified and described. The material suggests that there are certain basic human experiences which are often associated with magical and religious practice. They are discrete, describable, and – crucially – accessible to any human, regardless of her civilization. Some religions cultivate them deliberately. Others do not. But that these experiences are vivid, and that the experiencer needs to make sense of them in order to make sense of himself – that brute reality is central to any explanation ofmagical practice”

Page 386, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “That they affect the practitioner, and that through his understanding and analysis of them his interpretative style drifts away from its previous moorings, is the most general point of this book; its more specific discovery is the ironic, refracted, play-like belief that seems particular to a self-conscious, modern context.”

Page 387, Underline (Red): Content: “Bateson, G. 1937: Naven. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.”

Page 388, Underline (Red): Content: “–1972: Steps Towards an Ecology of Mind. New York: Ballantine.”

Page 388, Underline (Red): Content: “Beattie, J. 1964: Other Cultures. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. –1970: ‘On Understanding Ritual’. ln Wilson 1970b: pp. 240-68. –1984: ‘Objectivity and Social Anthropology’. In Brown 1984: pp. 1-20.”

Page 389, Underline (Red): Content: “Comaroff, J. 1985: Body of Power, Spirit of Resistance: the Culture and History of a South African People. Chicago: Chicago University Press.”

Page 389, Underline (Red): Content: “Crapanzano, V. 1973: The Hamadsha. Berkeley: University of California Press. –1978: Tuhami. Chicago: Chicago University Press. –1985: Waiting. London: Paladin.”

Page 389, Underline (Red): Content: “Douglas, M. 1966: Purity and Danger. Harmondsworth: Penguin. –(ed.) 1970: Witchcraft: Confessions and Accusations. London: Tavistock. –1975: Implicit Meanings. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.”

Page 390, Underline (Red): Content: “Durkheim, E. 1965 [1915]: The Elementary Forms of the Religious life. Trans.]. Swain. New York: The Free Press.”

Page 390, Underline (Red): Content: “Evans-Pritchard, E. E. 1937: Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic among the Azande. Oxford: Oxford University Press. –1940: The Nuer. Oxford: Oxford University Press. –1956: Nuer Religion. Oxford; Oxford University Press. –1965: Theories of Primitive Religion. Oxford: Oxford University Press. –1981: A History of Anthropological Thought. London: Faber.”

Page 391, Underline (Red): Content: “Frazer, Sir]. G. 1922: The Golden Bough. Abridged version. London: Macmillan.”

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