Edward Bever and Randall Styers, eds.: Magic in the Modern World: Strategies of Repression and Legitimization. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2017; pp. vi + 208.

Edward Bever and Randall Styers, eds.: Magic in the Modern World: Strategies of Repression and... This edited volume covers the relationship of magic and modernity with special attention to the contradictory tensions that sought both to dismiss magic in the wake of secularisation theory and to reinvent it in specifically modern contexts. The strategies in this reshaping include appeals to tradition, drawing magic into a discursive relationship with science, and relying upon experience to validate magical beliefs. Edward Bever and Randall Styers’ “Introduction” concludes with claims that are problematic, to say the least, in that they are essentialist and sui generis, not critical or contextualised. The conclusion says: “The modern concept of a rational, autonomous self is deeply artificial and constraining; it ignores vital realms of the human psyche, and denies central dimensions of human inter‐connectedness. These fissures guarantee that alternative systems of knowledge will continually emerge, regardless of their official acceptability or historical validity. This dynamic illustrates both the power of modern culture and the poverty of the modern notion of the self” (p. 13).The first four chapters consider magic in the modern disenchanted world. Randall Styers’ “Bad Habits, or How Superstitions Disappeared in the Modern World” traces the Enlightenment war on “superstition and magical thinking” (p. 25) that results in modern psychology, http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Religious History Wiley

Edward Bever and Randall Styers, eds.: Magic in the Modern World: Strategies of Repression and Legitimization. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2017; pp. vi + 208.

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Publisher
Wiley Subscription Services, Inc., A Wiley Company
Copyright
© 2018 Religious History Association
ISSN
0022-4227
eISSN
1467-9809
D.O.I.
10.1111/1467-9809.12502
Publisher site
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Abstract

This edited volume covers the relationship of magic and modernity with special attention to the contradictory tensions that sought both to dismiss magic in the wake of secularisation theory and to reinvent it in specifically modern contexts. The strategies in this reshaping include appeals to tradition, drawing magic into a discursive relationship with science, and relying upon experience to validate magical beliefs. Edward Bever and Randall Styers’ “Introduction” concludes with claims that are problematic, to say the least, in that they are essentialist and sui generis, not critical or contextualised. The conclusion says: “The modern concept of a rational, autonomous self is deeply artificial and constraining; it ignores vital realms of the human psyche, and denies central dimensions of human inter‐connectedness. These fissures guarantee that alternative systems of knowledge will continually emerge, regardless of their official acceptability or historical validity. This dynamic illustrates both the power of modern culture and the poverty of the modern notion of the self” (p. 13).The first four chapters consider magic in the modern disenchanted world. Randall Styers’ “Bad Habits, or How Superstitions Disappeared in the Modern World” traces the Enlightenment war on “superstition and magical thinking” (p. 25) that results in modern psychology,

Journal

Journal of Religious HistoryWiley

Published: Jan 1, 2018

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