A History Of Magic

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Major Religions And Magic: Greek Rationalism

Chapter 14

Greek Rationalists promoted the radical, wholesale rejection of the history, philosophy and experience of wizardkind (and Mugglekind, to boot) as mere superstition. They considered magic and wizardry as having no intellectual foundation or basis in reality. That is, essentially, if they could not determine the laws of magic by the use of pure logic, without regard to the evidence of their senses, they dismissed the phenomenon as being, somehow, untrue. While they did not persecute wizardkind, they dismissed them as being irrational at best, and charlatans at worst. Unfortunately, this view of magic as “improvable by logic” eventually was twisted into a more threatening view, and contributed to the development of the widespread persecution of witches and wizards in the 1600s.

 Prior to the rise of the Rationalist movement, wizards and witches were able to mingle freely with the Muggle world, not necessarily flaunting their abilities or even practicing their craft openly, but certainly without fear of prosecution or even coming to the notice of their neighbors, given Muggle tendency to dismiss what they cannot explain. In 1584, however, rationalist Reginald Scot (a Muggle) wrote a frightening text (to the wizarding world): Discoverie of Witchcraft, an informally produced collection of magical spells and charms, wherein he recorded the level of development of magical practice in the 16th century, and then proceeded to claim it was superstition and outright deception.

 How it was that Scot acquired access to the range of witches and wizards he would have needed to produce this text is unclear. However, what is clear is that his text raised Muggle awareness of the existence of magic, its principles and practices, and its usefulness. This led to two problems: increasing demand for wizarding intervention in Muggle problems, and blame for even the smallest, most random of Muggle problems on supposed wizarding activity. Needless to say, this text became one of the motives for prosecution of witches and wizards throughout Europe and North America, leading directly to the need for the International Statute of Secrecy, passed in 1689. More recently, in the 1900s, Rationalism morphed into Pragmatism, and returned to acceptance of magic, due to Pragmatism’s focus on “if it works, and is useful, it must be rational and true.”

 Ironically, Greek Rationalism is also responsible for the development of statistics and the scientific method. Current practice of these, even amongst Muggles, has led to what they refer to as the study of “quantum mechanics” or “quantum effects,” a field of study which is on the verge of proving the existence of magic with sufficient “proof” to satisfy the most rigorous of the Greek Rationalists. Further, the impact of statistical methods devised by the Rationalists on the subtle science of potion-making, with its emphasis on empirical methods, exact methodology, and replicability, is incalculable.

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