Magical Consciousness : An Anthropological and Neurobiological Approach book cover
1st Edition

Magical Consciousness
An Anthropological and Neurobiological Approach

ISBN 9781138850361
Published September 1, 2015 by Routledge
278 Pages 35 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

How does a mind think magically? The research documented in this book is one answer that allows the disciplines of anthropology and neurobiology to come together to reveal a largely hidden dynamic of magic. Magic gets to the very heart of some theoretical and methodological difficulties encountered in the social and natural sciences, especially to do with issues of rationality. This book examines magic head-on, not through its instrumental aspects but as an orientation of consciousness. Magical consciousness is affective, associative and synchronistic, shaped through individual experience within a particular environment. This work focuses on an in-depth case study using the anthropologist’s own experience gained through years of anthropological fieldwork with British practitioners of magic. As an ethnographic view, it is an intimate study of the way in which the cognitive architecture of a mind engages the emotions and imagination in a pattern of meanings related to childhood experiences, spiritual communications and the environment. Although the detail of the involvement in magical consciousness presented here is necessarily specific, the central tenets of modus operandi is common to magical thought in general, and can be applied to cross-cultural analyses to increase understanding of this ubiquitous human phenomenon.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Magic in Consciousness  Part One: A Dialogue Between Anthropology and Neurobiology  1. The Analogical Reason of Magic  2. The Magical Mind-Body Problem  3. Dense Interactivity: Interdisciplinary Challenges  4. Mind, Matrix, and Metaphor: Integrating Patterns of Experience  Part Two: An Ethnography of Mind  5. The Anthropologist’s Story: Prologue  6. Looking Into the River   7. Grandpa’s Magical Desk  8. Dragon Source  9. Imagination  10. The Doors of Perception  11. A Mythological Language  12. Confrontation  13. Forging Anew  14. Cyclical Return  15. Ancestors  Part Three: Conclusions  16. A Creative Synthesis: Analysing the Magical Mode

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Susan Greenwood is a past lecturer at Goldsmiths College, University of London and University of Sussex.

Erik D. Goodwyn is Assistant Professor at University of Louisville.