Encyclopedia of Sciences and Religions

2013 Edition
| Editors: Anne L. C. Runehov, Lluis Oviedo


Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-8265-8_5

Related Terms

Anthropology; Mental process

Magic has been and is likely to continue to be a contested concept in disciplines such as the study of religion, anthropology, sociology, and to a lesser extent history. Caught in a negative relation to the, usually, positive valued concepts of “religion” and “science,” magic has all too often functioned as a dustbin category used to designate ritual practices that did not fit into prevalent definitions of religion or to attempts to manipulate the world that did not fit into current definitions of science. Further the concept has a troubled history functioning as polemical ammunition used to denigrate competing ritual practices (e.g., Protestant polemics against Roman Catholic understandings of the Eucharist as “hocus pocus”), and as an integrated part of ideological primitivism, according to which “their” (primitive) rituals are magical, whereas “our” (civilized) rituals are religious. This has led several scholars to argue that the concept...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Culture and SocietyÅrhus CDenmark