Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Kiekhefer on the rationality of magic

"We cannot begin with the assumption that magic is irrational; we must ask ourselves why it was that for people whose rationality was otherwise unimpeachable it seemed to fit into a rational view of the universe, and the first step toward answering this question is listening carefully to their formulations, their definitions."
from Magic in the Middle Ages

Monday, September 2, 2013

decline of magic -- fragmentation?

"I suggest that there was a fragmentation of the occult arts and sciences during the Renaissance and early modern periods, as some aspects of the magic tradition became appropriated into the new philosophy, or new science. To a large extent it was the input from magic that made the new philosophies what they were, not only with regard to the experimental method and the new ethos that natural knowledge should be pragmatically useful, but also with regard to the substantive content of those new philosophies. At the same time,however, other aspects of the magical tradition were firmly rejected. These historical changes are perhaps best understood in terms of what sociologists of science have called ‘boundary work’, the process of demarcating supposed legitimate and valid procedures and presuppositions in establishing natural knowledge from those that are deemed invalid and illegitimate. From the Renaissance through the period known as the Scientific Revolution there was a complete rearrangement of the boundaries of what was magic or occult and what was not, which in turn involved a redrawing of the boundaries which determined what was natural philosophy and what was not.Furthermore, it is my contention that this led to a decline in the fortunes (among orthodox thinkers at least) of what was left behind in the realms of magic."

from The Fragmentation of Renaissance Occultism