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Author Topic: Magical Thinking in the Secular World  (Read 1681 times)

benvarry

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Magical Thinking in the Secular World
« on: August 07, 2011, 09:22:54 pm »
In an NYT opinion column published last week, Frank Bruni argues that magical thinking is essentially anti-intellectual and counterproductive.  So, as there are many people here who literally practice "magic", what do you think of his conclusion?  Is praying for a better economy something to be praised or derided?

(Personally, as a spiritual atheist I mostly agree with him, but I don't think it's a well-written argument and what he's written appears to be a thinly-veiled diatribe against people with alternate views of reality than he has.)

drekfletch

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Re: Magical Thinking in the Secular World
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2011, 10:16:52 pm »
Quote from: benvarry;11321
So, as there are many people here who literally practice "magic", what do you think of his conclusion?  Is praying for a better economy something to be praised or derided?

 
I think he's using the word magic in a different way than people who practice magic.

He's using magic with it's cartoon, hollywood connotations.  Wave your wand, say these words, perform these actions, and something supernatural will happen to fix your problems instantly.  People who practice magic know that that's not how the world works. Usually.  The ones who don't know are the ones who want to change their eye color or vanquish demons.

He is also applying it to the idea of one size fits all.  Any Cauldronite will tell you that you'd need hollywood magic to get one size to fit all. (We tend to be very careful with our generalizations)

All this is a way to mock intellectual laziness, but isn't really commentary on the Craft of magic.
There is no inherent meaning to life.  Stop looking and give your life meaning.
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Chapter 91 of The Order War by L.E.Modesitt jr.  If I could quote the entire thing I would.

benvarry

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Re: Magical Thinking in the Secular World
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2011, 11:06:15 am »
Quote from: drekfletch;11328
I think he's using the word magic in a different way than people who practice magic.

All this is a way to mock intellectual laziness, but isn't really commentary on the Craft of magic.

 
I like this response. :lub:

Couldn't it be argued, though, that everyone within a particular path (including the Craft) would argue that their religion/beliefs are something "more" than magical thinking, whereas there are really a lot of parallels (if not a complete overlap)?  e.g. Sympathetic magic, prayer to a deity, "The Secret"-type thought?

mandrina

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Re: Magical Thinking in the Secular World
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2011, 12:12:38 pm »
Quote from: benvarry;11440
I like this response. :lub:

Couldn't it be argued, though, that everyone within a particular path (including the Craft) would argue that their religion/beliefs are something "more" than magical thinking, whereas there are really a lot of parallels (if not a complete overlap)?  e.g. Sympathetic magic, prayer to a deity, "The Secret"-type thought?


The difference is most people (or at least most people on the cauldron who practice magic) also do the mundane scientific work.  They take regular cancer treatment as well as doing ritual or spells, they send out resumes and dress properly, etc for interviews along with that job spell, and so on.  They don't just do the spells and sit on their hands.  ALong the lines of "God helps those that help themselves."
Katrina

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treekisser

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Re: Magical Thinking in the Secular World
« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2011, 12:48:03 pm »
Quote from: benvarry;11321
In an NYT opinion column published last week, Frank Bruni argues that magical thinking is essentially anti-intellectual and counterproductive.  


I'm not sure that's what he's saying. As I read it, he's arguing against an American tendency to search for 'easy, all-encompassing answers', or the 'one summary prescriptive' - against simplistic, ideological thinking rather than magical thinking as such.

Quote
So, as there are many people here who literally practice "magic", what do you think of his conclusion?  Is praying for a better economy something to be praised or derided?


Praise or derision only make sense in relation to a clearly stipulated goal. If your only goal is to improve the economy, then praying for it is a waste of time.

If your goals are actually to bolster morale among fellow believers and citizens, keep religion in the public eye, and express and reaffirm your faith in a micromanaging deity, then a public prayer rally sounds perfect.

drekfletch

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Re: Magical Thinking in the Secular World
« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2011, 01:15:30 pm »
Quote from: benvarry;11440
Couldn't it be argued, though, that everyone within a particular path (including the Craft) would argue that their religion/beliefs are something "more" than magical thinking...


Almost certainly.

Quote from: benvarry;11440
...whereas there are really a lot of parallels (if not a complete overlap)?  e.g. Sympathetic magic, prayer to a deity, "The Secret"-type thought?

 
I'm taking the 'whereas' as a Randallism for 'where,' 'cause otherwise it doesn't make sense to me.  Most Cauldronites would not agree to the second half of the sentance.  Practitioners who do are derided as fluffbunnies, because nothing is a fix-all.
There is no inherent meaning to life.  Stop looking and give your life meaning.
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Chapter 91 of The Order War by L.E.Modesitt jr.  If I could quote the entire thing I would.

ccardinot

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Re: Magical Thinking in the Secular World
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2013, 07:51:46 pm »
Quote from: drekfletch;11455
Almost certainly.


 
I'm taking the 'whereas' as a Randallism for 'where,' 'cause otherwise it doesn't make sense to me.  Most Cauldronites would not agree to the second half of the sentance.  Practitioners who do are derided as fluffbunnies, because nothing is a fix-all.

 
In first place, we should have access to the whole story, so we can say something about. Because, sometimes, when trying to summarize an idea, we take it out of it's context and fail to communicate it to the audience. At least, that's my opinion.

Plus, who really study and practice magic, know how it works, and, clearly, this author is trying to compare a Ferrari with a beachball.

drekfletch

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Re: Magical Thinking in the Secular World
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2013, 06:05:39 pm »
Quote from: ccardinot;100727
In first place, we should have access to the whole story

 
You should be able to click the hyperlink in the first post, on the text for NYT.  I don't think it'll be blocked in Brazil, but you never know with cross border internet.
There is no inherent meaning to life.  Stop looking and give your life meaning.
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Chapter 91 of The Order War by L.E.Modesitt jr.  If I could quote the entire thing I would.

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