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Making MagicReligion, Magic and Science in the Modern World$
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Randall G. Styers

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195151077

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0195151070.001.0001

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The Emergence of Magic in the Modern World

The Emergence of Magic in the Modern World

(p.25) 1 The Emergence of Magic in the Modern World
Making Magic

Randall G. Styers (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter offers an account of the social and intellectual contexts within which definitions of magic emerged in the modern West, beginning with various early modern philosophical responses to the European witchcraft persecutions. Following the Reformation and the Enlightenment, intellectualized and privatized notions of religion gained prominence, particularly in Protestant anti-Catholic polemics. Coupled with this development was the proliferation of capitalism and Western science, both of which assert distinctive forms of mechanistic and rational manipulation of nature. Finally, with the European conquest of much of the non-Western world, the discourse on “primitive” culture came to play a significant role in legitimating colonial conquests and exploitation. In this context, magic came to serve as a particularly pliable tool in efforts to prescribe norms for liberal religious piety, modern scientific rationality, and capitalist social relations.

Keywords:   capitalism, Christianity, colonialism, Enlightenment, magic, modernity, religion, science, witchcraft

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