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ACADEMIC-STUDY-MAGIC  May 2018

ACADEMIC-STUDY-MAGIC May 2018

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Subject:

Re: UNSUBSCRIBE

From:

Stuart Nolan <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Society for The Academic Study of Magic <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 1 May 2018 17:26:41 +0100

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Very interesting. Though magic would seem incompatible with #2 the institutions and practitioners of science are in fact riddled with magical thinking. My particular interest in in how magical thinking occurs in our views on emerging technologies such as A.I. Big Data, and Robotics. Of course this raises the question of how we wish to distinguish between magic and magical thinking.

S 


> On 1 May 2018, at 17:13, Snow Crocus <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> The definition of magic is, in and of itself, an interesting question, and I don't wish to sidetrack that inquiry, as such.
> 
> But the conversation originated in a comparison of magic with science, and so it is apposite to also clarify what 'science' is.
> 
> It seems to me, there are roughly three ways that the word 'science' is typically used:
> 
> (1) Systematic, rational exploration of the regularities of human experience of the physical universe by means of empirical observation.
> 
> (2) A certain cultural practice originating in the Western intellectual tradition that works by means of institutions and networks of practitioners to systematize, formalize, and carry out projects of the sort described in #1.
> 
> (3) Faith in the results generated by #2: that they have actually been obtained; that they can be replicated; that they are reflective of some metaphysical reality.  Here, the results of science #2 function as a sort of myth.
> 
> Part of the difficulty that comes up in discussions of this sort is that, in Western culture as it is now, it is extremely difficult to disentangle these three meanings, when one utters the word 'science'.  Although each of the three refers to quite different things, they are conflated semantically.
> 
> The _process_ of science that we have now -- science #2, with our research institutions and graduate students and peer-reviewed journals -- although it is extremely successful, it is not the only way to carry out #1. Indeed, being dependent on culture and institutions -- and, perhaps, a Kuhnian paradigm -- it is mutually exclusive with other implementations of #1, that are differently situated.  Even Western science of 50 or 100 years ago is sometimes unrecognizable from the perspective of current concepts and institutions (cf especially psychology).
> 
> There are some in the scientific world who do not believe that this is so. They believe that any _real_ regularity in the workings of the universe that a person can observe -- at any time and in any culture -- will also be observable within #2, and so it is meaningless to draw any distinction.
> 
> I believe that this is a case of a fish being ignorant of water (ie, the scientist ignorant of the culture of science and its limitations -- some of which are deliberately self-imposed).  But for this reason it can also be difficult to make the case, to someone who buys it hook, line, and sinker.
> 
> In the case of comparison of science with magic, to the extent that magic engages in #1 at all (which it might or might not, depending on how you understand 'magic'), it operates within a cultural (or subcultural) context that is incompatible with #2.
> 
> Furthermore, a person who takes #3 to excess, and believes that _only_ things discoverable within #2 are metaphysically real ('scientism') may be particularly antipathetic toward a more inclusive metaphysical point of view.
> 
> a

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