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Magic

(9,806 words)

Author(s): Wiggermann, Franciscus A.M. | Wiggermann, F.A.M. | Betz, Hans Dieter | Baudy, Dorothea | Joosten, Jan | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Antiquity – III. Bible – IV. Church History – V. Practical Theology – VI. Philosophy of Religion – VII. Judaism – VIII. Islam I. Religious Studies No definition of magic has as yet found general acceptance. Approaches that go back to the late 19th century (E.B. Tylor, J.G. Frazer) view magic as a primitive cognitive system, the lowest rung on an evolutionary ladder (Evolution) that progresses with religion and science (cf. also Myth/Mythology: I). Magic in this view is characterized by the assumption of mechanical cosmic laws, knowledge of which enables the magician to tinker with the conditions of life for the benefit of the community. The cosmos of religion differs from that of magic by the admission of personal agents, spirits and gods, while science is presumed to have replaced the false laws of magic with the true laws of empirical observation. Although there is still much of value in this approach, its preconceived, abstract concepts prove of little use when applied to human culture in general, where magic, religion, and science occur side by side without being recognized as such. The observed…