Magic

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    Abstract

    The concept of “magic” has been an influential part of European cultural and religious debates since ancient times. Particularly since the eighteenth century, the concept of magic has been increasingly determined in relation to two other important concepts: “religion” and “science.” The almost intrinsic relation among these three concepts in the theoretical debate about magic indicates that we are confronted here with a discourse that is particularly relevant for the development of European cultural history. It is in European and North American culture that the juxtaposition among magic, religion, and science has generated a polemic of its own. This polemic is closely linked to Christian (and to some extent to Jewish and Islamic) theologies as well as to the rhetoric of European Enlightenment that defined itself through the refutation of magic and its alleged irrationalism. The chapter analyzes the rhetorical demarcations between magic and religion on the one hand and between magic and science on the other. It is argued that while the term magic, as part of cultural history, will remain an important object of study for scholars of religion, it is not an adequate candidate as an analytical tool for academic research.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Wiley Blackwell Companion to the Study of Religion
    EditorsRobert A. Segal, Nickolas P. Roubekas
    Place of PublicationHoboken
    PublisherWiley-Blackwell
    Chapter21
    Pages315-324
    Number of pages10
    Edition2nd
    ISBN (Electronic)978-1-119-09276-6
    ISBN (Print)978-0-470-65656-3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2021

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