Chapter

The End of Magic

Ariel Glucklich

in The End of Magic

Published in print May 1997 | ISBN: 9780195108798
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199853434 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195108798.003.0017
The End of Magic

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For a variety of reasons, scholars of religions no longer find it useful to compare religion and magic. According to the worst misconception, magic compels natural or supernatural forces to obey human will, whereas religion acts by supplication to a god who may or may not respond. With the rise of symbolical interpretations of magic, this distinction has stopped making sense. If the magical act is a form of expressive speech, which is not compelling but meaningful, then magic and religion become two types of one phenomenon: a symbolic rationality in relation to the sacred. Due to the fact that the magical experience can exist anywhere—a dentist's office as much as a hunting expedition—it is the subjective aspect of magic that should interest us most. Magical “empathy” can become the new subject of inquiry, the extension of the magical experience into daily life. The study of magic must combine the history of embodied experience—the ground of interrelatedness—and its articulation in concrete cultural forms.

Keywords: magic; religion; empathy; interrelatedness; symbolic rationality; sacred; magical experience; cultural forms

Chapter.  4766 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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