RE: virus: Magic/Science
Tue, 3 Dec 1996 09:30:54 -0600 (CST)

On Tue, 3 Dec 1996, Schneider John wrote:

> Eva wrote [reformatted to look nice on my screen as I type]:
> > Well, I don't know about David L.'s pet math system, but his
> > inclusion of magic within science is in line with a goodly num-
> > ber of writers on the topic (magic). Aleister Crowley defines
> > magic as the art of causing change in accordance with Will, and
> > thus subsumes under its heading all conscious action, but not
> > habitual, random, instinctive, or otherwise unconscious action.
> > I have been doing a lot of thinking about magic recently, which
> > is how I ended up on this list, as well as how I ended up in the
> > UU church and reading books on myth, satire, and mental illness
> > (my idea of studying magic is only getting broader as I go).
> > I have concluded that a successful magician is a person whose
> > conscious and unconscious desires are in tune with one another,
> > so that eir efforts are directed toward eir goals, rather than
> > engaged in intrapersonal conflict. I think this may be the
> > same thing as being Level 3.
> >
> > On the other hand, most writers treat magic as a kind of activity
> > or belief system, usually distinct from religion but analogous to
> > it in some important ways, such as involving 'the supernatural'.
> > Frazer (_Golden Bough_) set up the canonical distinction, which
> > I've now seen quoted elsewhere several times: in Religion, the
> > individual is petitioning a deity for something; in Magic, e
> > is attempting to make it happen emself by effectively using
> > materials and forces available. Writers attempting to define
> > what magic is generally get bogged down in distinguishing it
> > not only from religion, but also from Science, which similarly
> > works with forces at hand in the individual and the universe,
> > disregarding divine intervention. Another mode of thought/
> > activity that crops up in such discussions is Art. Different
> > writers define them all differently with regard to one another.
> > Perhaps the major difficulty is that each of the four is not
> > one thing itself--each is a cluster of attitudes, beliefs,
> > behaviours, and produced works, and an individual object,
> > procedure, or text may have aspects of all four.
> Having thought some more on it, here is the difference between
> science and magic, as I see it:
> - Science shows us "how to do it", then talks about theories of
> "why it worked", none of which are to be taken very seriously,
> since all that really matters is: "we know how to do it".
> - Magic explains to us "why it will work", then talks about
> theories of "how to do it", none of which are to be taken
> very seriously, since all that really matters is: "we know
> why it will work."
> Open question: is that a fundamentally wrong way of looking at it,
> and if so, then is there any literature available which actually
> shows the reader "how to do magic", and doesn't frog around with
> discussing the "why" until afterword?

1) The first recorded hint of a distinction in writing is in the 4th
century BC, Greece [Aristotle, Archimedes, Ptolemy,] Many
religious rightists find this threatening to their worldview.

2) Operationally, [I am loosely imitating someone Polish from an anthology I
own on this subject]:
Procedures used in Science try to work with/blend in with Nature.
Procedures used in Magic try to defy Nature. This is necessarily a
more difficult task, and usually needs liberal use of the Observer Effect.
I think Science [in the above sense] got into full gear sometime
between 1500 and 1550,

/ Towards the conversion of data into information....
/ Kenneth Boyd