Magic: A Problem in Semantics



Anthropologists, from Tylor to the present, have so defined magic that, although it might shade into or overlap with religion, it is a separate phenomenon distinct from religion. Theorists have made different features the chief means of differentiation, but no matter how defined the distinction cannot be easily or consistently maintained. This paper suggests that the concept of magic as a distinct entity is the factitious result of ethnocentric classification, and that magic should be included within religion as one type of the practices of which religious ritual is composed.