Is magic similar to science ? Discuss.

James Frazer, an eminent social anthropologist argued that as the civilization progresses, primitive magic is replaced by religion, in turn replaced by science. Civilized societies are looking at magic as superstition and science as truth, whereas magic is the root of science, according to Frazer. But many European Scholars criticized Frazer and argued that magic and science may appear similar but are very different from each other.

Malinowski agreed with Frazer on calling magic as a pseudo-science, and opined that there are similarities as well as differences between magic and science.

Similarities :-

  • Both magic and science have a specific aim related to human needs and pursuits. Both have a system of rules to determine how a specific act can be effectively performed.
  • Both science and magic develop techniques to carry out certain activities.

Differences :-

  • Science is concerned with the natural world, whereas magic is concerned with the mystic and super natural powers.
  • Science is guided by reason and validity, while magic gives the idea of victory of hope over fear. Magic instills the belief in the impossible.
  • Science is related to the general experience of everyday life, and magic is related to the play of emotions.
  • Science is the collection of rational knowledge, which puts nature above the individual. Magic on the other hand gives the belief that one can control the nature through supernatural powers.

 Malinowski said that magic is not a primitive science, but is the outgrowth of clear recognition that science has its limits and that a human mind and human skill are at times impotent.

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