This article is about the conceptual category in the social sciences. Circe Offering the Cup to Odysseus. Various different definitions of magic have been proposed, with much contemporary scholarship regarding the how to get supernatural powers pdf to be so problematic that it is better to reject it altogether as a useful analytic construct.
The concept of magic has been an issue of debate among academics in various disciplines. Scholars have defined magic in different ways and used the term to refer to different things. Both negative and positive understandings of the term were retained in Western culture over the following centuries, with the former largely influencing early academic usages of the word. Throughout Western history, there have been examples of individuals who engaged in practices that their societies called magic and who sometimes referred to themselves as magicians. In this environment, the concept of magic has again changed, usually being defined as a technique for bringing about changes in the physical world through the force of one’s will. Magic has often been dismissed as either primitive and irrational and therefore alien to modern society, as inherently opposed to the Judeo-Christian traditions of the West, or as incompatible with religion in general. These antipathetic sentiments are deeply embedded in Western culture, and the term magic has typically been used to describe non-mainstream beliefs and practices — non-Christians, heretics, non-Westerners, indigenous, ancient or ‘primitive’ cultures — any that might be considered ‘Other.
The image of magic as inherently linked with the Other has functioned as an important factor in the construction of the self-identity of Western culture, for by defining magic as something alien, exotic, primitive, evil, deviant or even ridiculous, our society also makes a tacit statement as to its self-perceptions. Throughout such debates, the scholarly community has failed to agree on a definition of magic, in a similar manner to how they have failed to agree on a definition of religion. Even among those throughout history who have described themselves as magicians, there has been no common understanding of what magic is. There has been some debate among scholars as to whether to use the term magic at all, with many arguing for its rejection as an analytical tool.
Western culture without any recourse to the concept of magic itself. Since the 1990s its usage among scholars has declined. It has also been repeatedly presented as the archetypally non-modern phenomenon. Using the term magic when discussing non-Western cultures or pre-modern forms of Western society raises problems, as it may impose Western categories that are alien to them. Alternately, this term implies that all categories of magic are ethnocentric and that such Western preconceptions are an unavoidable component of scholarly research. Magic is one of the most heavily theorized concepts in the study of religion.
Alternately, others have used it as a middle-ground category located between religion and science. Many different definitions of magic have been offered by scholars, although — according to Hanegraaff — these can be understood as variations of a small number of heavily influential theories. Tylor and Frazer, the primary anthropologists associated with the intellectualist interpretation of magic. Spencer regarded both magic and religion as being rooted in false speculation about the nature of objects and their relationship to other things.