Magic, Science and Religion: magic: Sociological theories: the Western while Malinowski regarded magic as directly and essentially concerned with the. MALINOWSKI, BRONISLAW. Magic, Science and Religion, and. Other Essays. Boston: Beacon Press. xii & pp. $ The appearance of this book. Magic Science and Religion has 35 ratings and 1 review. THIS 72 PAGE ARTICLE WAS EXTRACTED FROM THE BOOK: Science Religion and Reality, by.

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They have, in fact, a whole system of principles of sailing, embodied in a complex and rich terminology, traditionally handed on and obeyed as rationally and consistently as is modern science by modern sailors. Initiation is a typically religious act, and we can see clearly here how the ceremony and its purpose are one, how the end is realized in the very consummation of the act. I could adduce a number of similar rites from my own experience, and many more, of course, mmalinowski other records.

They seem to be strongly attracted by any important event in life, to crystallize around it, surround it with a rigid crust of formalism and ritualism — but to what purpose?

And then, even if magic be done in the most perfect manner, its effects can be equally well undone: Every magical ceremony has its distinctive name, its appropriate time and its place in the scheme of work, and it stands out of the ordinary course of activities completely.

In order to grasp better the nature of primitive religious ceremonies and their function, let us analyze the ceremonies of maguc.

Grasping at it, man reaches the comforting belief in spiritual continuity and in the life after death. Magic is akin to science in that it always has a definite an intimately associated with human instincts, needs, and pursuits.

Magic Science and Religion

Studies on savage psychology were exclusively confined to early religion, magic and mythology. Thus, not only is magic an essentially human possession, but it is literally and actually enshrined in man and can be handed on only from man to man, according to very strict rules of magical filiation, initiation, and instruction. No wonder that it is considered a source of success.

They would be the men successful in all emergencies. After a time the corpse has to be disposed of. Sometimes it is the actual record of a magical revelation coming directly from the first man to whom magic was revealed in some dramatic occurrence.

To the comforting voice of hope, to the intense desire of immortality, to the difficulty, in one’s own case, almost the impossibility, of facing annihilation there are opposed powerful and terrible forebodings. Old age is known to lead to bodily decay and the explanation is given by the natives that very old people grow weak, their oesophagus closes up, and therefore they must die.

Magic,Science and Religion and other essays – Malinowski Notes

Those who have lived in the jungle with savages, taking part in collecting or hunting expeditions, or who have sailed with them over the lagoons, or spent moonlit nights on sandbanks waiting for the shoals of fish or for the appearance of turtle, know how keen and selective is the savage’s interest, [MB 45] how it clings to the malinowskii, trails, and to the habits and peculiarities of his quarry, while it yet remains quite indifferent to any other stimuli.


Spirits are for all, sciwnce everyone becomes a spirit. They give man a relatively easy mental control over it.

By acquainting man with his surroundings, by allowing him to use the forces of nature, science, primitive knowledge, bestows on man an immense biological advantage, setting him far above all the rest of creation. Since food is to the savage the token of the beneficence of the world, since plenty gives him the first, the most elementary, inkling of Providence, by sharing in food sacrificially with his spirits or divinities the savage shares with them in the beneficial powers of his Providence already felt by him but not yet comprehended.

For in these customs is clearly religino the fundamental attitude of mind of the surviving relative, friend religiob lover, the longing for all that remains of the dead person and the disgust and fear of the dreadful transformation wrought by death.

As there is the body of legends already fixed, standardized, and constituting the folklore of the tribe, so there is always a stream of narratives in kind to those of the mythological time. The Public and Tribal Character of Primitive Cults The festive and public character of the ceremonies of cult is a conspicuous feature relibion religion in general. To most features of magical spell, to the commands, invocations, metaphors, there corresponds a natural flow of words, in malediction, in entreaty, in exorcism, and in the descriptions of unfulfilled wishes.

A sentiment religipn social nature is built round each species, a sentiment which naturally finds its expression in folklore, belief, and ritual. Rational Mlinowski by Man of His Surroundings 3.

This explanation, somewhat condensed as it is, attempts to show that, in its social organization, belief, and cult, totemism is not a freakish outgrowth, not a fortuitous result of some special accident or constellation, but the natural outcome of natural conditions. Also they are all able to draw diagrammatic maps in the sand or dust, indicate arrangements by placing small stones, shells, or sticks on the ground, plan expeditions or raids on such rudimentary charts.

Myth, it may be added at once, can attach itself not only to magic but to any form of social power or social claim.

Only what in life has been spread over a long space and manifested in a succession of experiences and events is here at its end condensed into one crisis which provokes a violent and complex outburst of religious manifestations.

The graver forms of disease, love in its passionate phases, the desire for a ceremonial exchange and other similar manifestations [MB 76] in the human organism and mind, are the direct product of the spell and rite. What is the substance of a spirit, and what is the psychological origin of this belief? But underlying this custom there is a still deeper religious element.

Magic, Science and Religion

Yet his desire grips him only the more strongly; his anxiety, his fears and hopes, induce a tension in his organism which drives him to some sort of activity. There is, of course, no widespread thirst for knowledge in a savage community, new things such as European topics bore them frankly and their whole interest is largely encompassed by the traditional world of their culture. On the other hand there is the domain of the unaccountable and adverse influences, as well as the great unearned increment malihowski fortunate coincidence.


It is part of the original endowment of primeval humanity, of the mura-mura or alcheringa of Australia, of the subterrestrial humanity of Melanesia, of the people of the magical Golden Age all the world over. Sacrifice and communion, the two main forms in which food is ritually ministered, can religioh be held in a new light against the background of man’s early attitude of religious reverence towards the providential abundance of food.

Death mmalinowski the gateway to the other world in more than the literal sense. First, why does a primitive tribe select for its totems a limited number of species, primarily animals and plants; and on what principles is this selection made? In the American concepts the emphasis seems to be on the former, in the Oceanic on the latter.

Science is open to all, a common good of the whole community, magic is occult, taught through mysterious initiations, handed on in a sclence or at least in very exclusive filiation. Or again, as when a man conveys the spell to some material substance which afterwards will be applied to the thing or person to be charmed.

Does this mean, however, that the natives attribute all the good results to magic? It has borne fruit, in fact, in influencing some of the most important writing of mixed classical scholarship and anthropology, to mention only the works of Miss Jane Harrison and Mr.

We have taken for our starting-point a most definite and tangible distinction: Thus the instances which affirm magic always loom far more conspicuously than those which deny it. And as we have seen, myth is the natural result of human faith, because every power must give signs of its efficiency, must act and be known to act, if people are to believe in its virtue.

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It was necessary to enter into this problem in detail, for the theory of mana as the essence of primitive magic and religion has been so brilliantly advocated and so recklessly handled that it must be realized first that our knowledge of the mana, notably in Melanesia, is somewhat contradictory, and especially that we have hardly any data at all showing just how this conception enters into religious or magical cult and belief. In fact, however, it plays an astonishingly insignificant part in religion, considering its force and insidiousness in human life in general.

Marett in England, and MM. It must also be remembered that acts of ceremonial licence are not mere indulgence, but that they express a reverent attitude towards the forces of generation and fertility in man and nature, forces on which the very existence of society and culture depends.

The above outlined psychology of the csience attitude towards food and its abundance and our principle mslinowski man’s practical and pragmatic outlook lead us directly to an answer. At the same time it is felt to be a supreme act of reverence, love, and devotion.