Sunday, January 22, 2012

J.C Frazer - The Golden Bough


Sir James George Frazer (1 January 1854, Glasgow – 7 May 1941, Cambridge), was a Scottish social anthropologist influential in the early stages of the modern studies of mythology and comparative religion. He is often considered one of the founding fathers of modern anthropology.His most famous work, The Golden Bough (1890), documents and details similar magical and religious beliefs across the globe. Frazer posited that human belief progressed through three stages: primitive magic, replaced by religion, in turn replaced by science.

He wrote that primitive man knew nothing of science.Evolution of magic in the primitive society was based on law of similarity and the law of control.Magicians adhereing to this law thought that they could control nature by imitating it.When rains were needed,water was poured out and if one wanted an enemy to be harmed a doll representing the enemy was made and needles pierced through it in the belief that the enemy would suffer from physical agony.The magic associated with the law of contact is known as contagious magic.


With the passage of time man realized that he had no power to control nature.It was slowly dawned on him that a higher supernatural power governed the world.Thus the seed for the birth of religion was sown.Magicians gave place to religious specialists who were supposed to possess the ability to get into contact with supernatural powers.The help of the specialists grew and their prestige increased as time rolled on.Magic and science are related in the sense that both manipulate nature but there is difference in their approach.While magic seeks the help of unknown powers the scientist's is based on his skill and understanding the laws of nature.According to Frazer magic is pseudo-science.He believed that early men were irrational although they developed capabilities that helped them to better the quality of their life.Progress in science has led to technological innovations which have transformed the ways of life of people.

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