The author presents a new theory of magical actions based on a wide array of recent findings in the cognitive sciences. Analysing classical ethnographic cases, he argues that paying close attention to the underlying cognitive processes will not only explain why magical rituals look the way they do, it will also supply new insights into the role of magic in the formation of institutionalised religion.
Jesper Sorensen, Ph.D. is Associate Professor in Comparative Religion, Institute of Philosophy, Pedagogic, and the Study of Religion, University of Southern Denmark, and International Fellow at the Institute of Cognition and Culture, Queen's University Belfast. He is the author of numerous other works and articles in the fields cognitive and evolutionary underpinning of religious phenomena, method and theory in the study of religion, and Western Esotericism.
Part 1 Figures Part 2 Tables Part 3 Introduction Part 4 Magic in the History of the Social Sciences Part 5 The Cognitive Foundation of Magical Action Part 6 Magical Rituals and Conceptual Blending Part 7 Transformation and Manipulation: A Typology of Magical Actions Part 8 Frames of Ritual Action: Causation, Diagnosis and Prognosis Part 9 Ritual Purpose and the Relation Between Magic, Culture and Religion Part 10 References