Attempts to define and describe magic must reckon with this concept’s slipperiness, as magic is often understood against what supposedly it is not: typically, ‘proper’ religion and ‘rational’ science, even though both religion and science are objects just as elusive. Despite its ambiguous status and the prejudices attached to it, or maybe precisely for these reasons, magic has long enthralled scholars in the human sciences, and anthropology in particular. After first exploring the genealogy of magic as a concept, this entry will examine the manifold ways in which occult knowledges and practices play a role in the life of many societies. It will touch on the role of vernacular magic in experiences of crisis, and dwell on how anthropology has found a way to appreciate the ‘truth’ of magic. It then explores magic as a ‘craft’ – a set of techniques through which practitioners creatively shape their relationships with the world and their own selves. Emphasis will be given to magic’s documented potential to activate the imagination. The case of ceremonial magic and its revival will allow the reader to appreciate the modernity of magic. The entry concludes with a reflection on the recurrent attributes of magic – often identified as a particularly experimental, do-it-yourself, and manipulation-based form of spiritual action – and its compatibility with a post-secular age that has not renounced enchantment.

Magic

matteo benussi
2019

Abstract

Attempts to define and describe magic must reckon with this concept’s slipperiness, as magic is often understood against what supposedly it is not: typically, ‘proper’ religion and ‘rational’ science, even though both religion and science are objects just as elusive. Despite its ambiguous status and the prejudices attached to it, or maybe precisely for these reasons, magic has long enthralled scholars in the human sciences, and anthropology in particular. After first exploring the genealogy of magic as a concept, this entry will examine the manifold ways in which occult knowledges and practices play a role in the life of many societies. It will touch on the role of vernacular magic in experiences of crisis, and dwell on how anthropology has found a way to appreciate the ‘truth’ of magic. It then explores magic as a ‘craft’ – a set of techniques through which practitioners creatively shape their relationships with the world and their own selves. Emphasis will be given to magic’s documented potential to activate the imagination. The case of ceremonial magic and its revival will allow the reader to appreciate the modernity of magic. The entry concludes with a reflection on the recurrent attributes of magic – often identified as a particularly experimental, do-it-yourself, and manipulation-based form of spiritual action – and its compatibility with a post-secular age that has not renounced enchantment.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/3758914
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