ANTH 222 Lecture Notes - Lecture 9: Cooties, Deep Sea, Homeopathy

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5 Apr 2017
Magic and Divination
Magic: what is it?
Common to many cultures
A set of principles for organizing the universe, in order to better understand and control
Presupposes symbolic connections between and among phenomena
These systems of knowledge vary a great deal cross-culturally
Generally, magic imposes the human’s will on the manifest universe through symbolic
Anthropological ways of thinking about magic
Tylor: magic as pre-rational, “primitive”, falso
Frazer: magic as an early form of science
Durkheim: magic as anti-social, individual activity (as opposed to religion)
Malinowski: magic compensates for low technology and is used in high risk/uncertainty
Trobriand Island fishermen
Deep sea fishing more risky than lagoon fishing
Deep sea fishermen had more magic rituals than lagoon fishermen
Magic helps people feel a sense of control over uncertain outcomes
How do magicians think magic works?
Ceremonial (high) vs. “low” magic vs. chaos magic
Necessary attributes:
Personal faith in one’s abilities
Concentration or focus
○ Self-knowledge
Discipline and will
What are the causal mechanisms?
Natural forces we haven’t discovered yet
Intervention of spirits or gods, with their own intelligence
Inherent power in all things
Interconnection in the cosmos
Power of the subconscious
The Founding Principle: Unity or Sympathy
All phenomena are linked, directly or indirectly
The universe operates as an interconnected whole
Principles of Magic: Magic Follows Natural Laws
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