Synopses & Reviews
Professor Tambiah is one of the leading anthropologists of the day, particularly known for his penetrating and scholarly studies of Buddhism. In this accessible and illuminating book he deals with the classical opposition of magic with science and religion. He reviews the great debates in classical Judaism, early Greek science, Renaissance philosophy, the Protestant Reformation, and the scientific revolution, and then reconsiders the three major interpretive approaches to magic in anthropology: the intellectualist and evolutionary theories of Tylor and Frazer, Malinowski's functionalism, and Lévy-Bruhl's philosophical anthropology, which posited a distinction between mystical and logical mentalities. He follows with a wide-ranging and suggestive discussion of rationality and relativism and concludes with a discussion of new thinking in the history and philosophy of science, suggesting fresh perspectives on the classical opposition between science and magic.
"...this book will be of immense benefit to all those involved in the study of the mental and cultural life of humankind." Journal of the American Academy of Religion"This enormously erudite but engaging study offers a tough, critical, and morally sensitive perspective on the history of central issues in anthropological theory. More than either a theoretical manifesto or a philosophical disquisition, it makes the anthropological project and the history of ideas mutually relevant to a degree rarely achieved before now." Choice
Most anthropologists who have attempted to demarcate and contrast magic, science and religion as cross-cultural categories appear to have been unaware of the rich and long intellectual history of Western thought which framed their own specialized writings. In this book, Professor Tambiah reexamines magic, science and religion within the framework of this history, including the Judaic religion, early Greek science, Renaissance philosophy, the Protestant Reformation, and the European scientific revolution in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
In the Western tradition, the boundaries between magic, science and religion have been continually contested. In this straightforward text, Professor Tambiah shows that modern anthropological theorists drew upon the classical sources but introduced new, ethnographic case materials. An incisive account of the theories of Tylor, Frazer, Malinowski and Levy Bruhl is followed by a wide-ranging and suggestive discussion of rationality and relativism. The book concludes with a discussion of new thinking in the history and philosophy of science, which suggests fresh perspectives on the classical opposition between science and magic.
This accessible and illuminating book explores the classical opposition between magic, science and religion.
Three major interpretative approaches to magic in anthropology follow a review of the great debates in classical Judaism, early Greek science, Renaissance philosophy, the Protestant Reformation and the Scientific Revolution.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 171-176) and index.
Table of Contents
List of plates; Foreword Alfred Harris; Acknowledgements; 1. Magic, science and religion in Western thought: anthropology's intellectual legacy; 2. Anthropology's intellectual legacy (continued); 3. Sir Edward Tylor versus Bronislaw Malinowski: is magic false science or meaningful performance?; 4. Malinowski's demarcations and his exposition of the magical art; 5. Multiple orderings of reality: the debate initiated by Lévy-Bruhl; 6. Rationality, relativism, the translation and commensurability of cultures; 7. Modern science and its extensions; Notes; Bibliography; Index.