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Animism & Magic: E.B. Tylor & J.G. Frazer

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on 23 September 2013

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Transcript of Animism & Magic: E.B. Tylor & J.G. Frazer

J.G. Frazer
Definition: Religion
Definition: Sympathetic Magic
Two Kinds of Connections
Animism & Magic: E.B. Tylor & J.G. Frazer
E.B. Tylor: Early Life
Tylor's parents died when he was young and he had very early signs of tuberculosis. Because of this his doctor recommended that he move to a warmer climate. This prompted his move to Central America. In Central America, he found himself fascinated with tribal communities and the prehistoric times.
Anthropological Method: Connections were loosely made in throughout The Golden Bough and Primitive Culture.
Evolutionism: The timeline is assumed, there is no true document of the ancient people, and the evidence really only provides stories.
Social & Individual: The theories are stories. It assumes religion in just an intellectual construct.
Background Info on Edward Burnett Tylor
Tylor was a self-educated, environment-based student, born into a Quaker family. He spent his time learning by travel and independent study. He is best known for his theory of "animism," as well as being the founder of modern-day cultural and social anthropology and his hatred for Christian practices.
A disciple of Tylor, Frazer spent most of his life devoted to learning. He was a Classics student at Cambridge University.
Frazer is known for his idea of the "magic" theory of religion.
Background Info on James George Frazer
The Big Picture
Science and Anthropology: Both Frazer and Tylor regarded themselves as "scientific theorists of religion" (45). Anything supernatural or miraculous MUST be ruled out. If the religious and the non-religious can't agree, it doesn't count as evidence to support their claims.
Evolution and Origins: They are both interested in explaining religion based on history and the development from the origin into the present form. They believe that origin CAN be discovered, but not through one single event. Religion is no longer a "magical force" within life now that science has become a major factor (46).
Intellectualism and Individualism: Often referred to as advocates for intellectually approaching religion. To the two of them, religion matter of beliefs to account for what they find in the world. It is not seen far back in history. Religion is communal based on the general acceptance of ideas by a group that agress upon that concept.
Muller was a scholar in the study of Hinduism. He studied a lot in the Veda's (directly revealed, sacred texts from Ancient India.)
He was the original person to come up with the idea of the "science" of religion and searching for all principles & patterns within religions.
His desire was to create a uniformity, not to divide.
It Began with Friedrich Muller
E.B. Tylor: Travel and Academic Life
Tylor published a few books during his time in Central America. His most important work was a 2-volume book series titled "Primitive Culture." Although Tylor did not have a formal education, he was invited to teach at Oxford University and was named the first Professor of Anthropology in 1896.
E.B. Tylor: What is religion?
According to Tylor, religions are all connected by one thing, "the belief in spiritual beings (26)".
All of the spiritual beings have human qualities in their emotions and actions.
A prime example of this is Jesus within the Christian tradition. He took human form and experienced emotions and actions of a normal human. Greek Gods and Goddesses also had the ability to feel emotions such as rage, lust, and jealousy.
Early/Academic Life
Born into a protestant Christian home, he later in life became agnostic. Originally a Classics major in college, Frazer read Tylor's "Primitive Culture" and his interests suddenly changed. William Robertson Smith's travels and research of Arabia's "totems," or the customs of diving into clans, peaked Frazer's interest (32-33). Frazer is most known for his ideology in his book, "The Golden Bough."
Frazer and Tylor don't differ much on their definition of religion. Frazer believes that it fits into the theory of magic as they are both, "built upon the uncritical association of ideas..."
Because to primitive people nature runs on sympathetic influence, Frazer did not use the term "magic" unless it was prefaced by "sympathetic." There is a connection between humans and nature (36).
Imitative: Connections made based on similarities. (Eg: tricking water look like rain)
Contagious: Connections made through contact or personal attachment (Eg: Voodoo dolls) (36).
E.B. Tylor: What is animism?
The word "animism" comes from the Latin term "anima" meaning "spirit." The definition of animism, according to Dictionary.com is: "the belief that natural objects, natural phenomena, and the universe itself possess souls." It also includes the idea that "natural objects have souls that may exist apart from their material bodies."
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Religion is on a scale of animism to science.
Cured by priests through ritual
The soul lives on after death and creates its own destiny.
Cured through medicine and science
Worship is directed toward God.
The spirit is worshiped, not the object/animal
Are Christian symbols an evolution of magic that Frazer describes?
Where on the scale of functional to substantive would Frazer and Tylor fit?
Can religion progress in a category of its own?
Discussion Question!
Break into groups of 3. You will have 5 minutes to discuss the answer to the following question. Be prepared to give your answer AND a passage supporting it.

Where on the scale of functional to substantive would Frazer and Tylor fit?

Created By: Whitney Taylor & Aaron Falsetto
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