British Anthropologist, Folklorist and Classical Scholar
James Frazer, aka James George Frazer
British Anthropologist, Folklorist and Classical Scholar
If mankind had always been logical and wise, history would not be a long chronicle of folly and crime.
No human being is so hide-bound by custom and tradition as your democratic savage; in no state of society consequently is progress so slow and difficult. The old notion that the savage is the freest of mankind is the reverse of the truth. He is a slave, not indeed to a visible master, but to the past, to the spirits of his dead forefathers, who haunt his steps from birth to death, and rule him with a rod of iron. What they did is the pattern of right, the unwritten law to which he yields a blind unquestioning obedience.
The notion that we can transfer our guilt and sufferings to some other being who will bear them for us is familiar to the savage mind. It arises from a very obvious confusion between the physical and the mental, between the material and the immaterial.
To a modern reader the connexion at first site may not be obvious between the activity of the hangman and the productivity of the earth.
Even the recognition of an individual whom we see every day is only possible as the result of an abstract idea of him formed by generalization from his appearances in the past.
If the test of truth lay in a show of hands or a counting of heads, the system of magic might appeal, with far more reason than the Catholic Church, to the proud motto, Quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus [always, everywhere, and by all], as the sure and certain credential of its own infallibility.
Primitive people did not think of supernatural beings superior to man; because the gods, could be forced intimidated to fulfill the people's wishes. The world is seen as a huge platform for democracy in this idea stage; Want to get a moderate equality of all beings like ordinary supernatural believed to be based there. But they know the nature of human beings with the increase in size and the inability of its nature is clearly out of the grip. But to realize the helplessness, the weakness does not bring with it a belief in supernatural beings that place of imagination in the universe. On the contrary, it strengthens the belief in the power of these assets. Because, according to the world's fixed and immutable laws of thought is a system of impersonal forces acting does not exactly lighting is dim or mind. There are of course a vague feeling that thought and not only in the magical arts moves based on these shares most of the work in everyday life. But it does not develop thinking and a will to live in the world to explain're working and think of the world as evidence of consciousness of a personal presence. What if he so weak and entities that control the huge mechanism of nature, if it considers to be incapable of seeing how big and mighty! So the idea that even the gods do not slowly, while that with anyone without help power loses his hope to control the flow of nature with magic and gods start to see once the only source of supernatural power he thought he share with them. So, the equivalent of magic as a legitimate located next to the prayers and offerings to the advancement of knowledge increasingly pushed into the background and falls into a dark art level. Now the magic is regarded as an attack on both eyes in vain in the kingdom of God as infidels and encountered increasing or decreasing the influence of constant opposition of the clergy with their gods. So now comes along at a time when the distinction between superstition and religion by religious vows and prayers of the community and the support of intellectuals, we see that the magic of the superstitious and ignorant sections of the refuge. But at a later period, the forces of nature when it opened the way for recognition of the idea of natural law as personal assets grow, indirectly, is based on the idea of an independent essential and constant cause-effect flow of personal will fall as discredited and marginalized position of getting rid reappears and the nature of the causal sequence by examining directly It opens the way to true science. Alchemy will pave the chemistry.
The old notion that the savage is the freest of mankind is the reverse of the truth. He is a slave, not indeed to a visible master, but to the past, to the spirits of his dead forefathers, who haunt his steps from birth to death, and rule him with a rod of iron.
We seem to move on a thin crust which may at any moment be rent by the subterranean forces slumbering below.
Fear of the human dead, which, on the whole, I believe to have been probably the most powerful force in the making of primitive religion.
If their king is their god, he is or should be also their preserver; and if he will not preserve them, he must make room for another who will.
Small minds cannot grasp great ideas; to their narrow comprehension, their purblind vision, nothing seems really great and important but themselves. Such minds hardly rise into religion at all.
The position of the anthropologist of to-day resembles in some sort the position of classical scholars at the revival of learning. To these men the rediscovery of ancient literature came like a revelation, disclosing to their wondering eyes a splendid vision of the antique world, such as the cloistered of the Middle Ages never dreamed of under the gloomy shadow of the minster and within the sound of its solemn bells. To us moderns a still wider vista is vouchsafed, a greater panorama is unrolled by the study which aims at bringing home to us the faith and the practice, the hopes and the ideals, not of two highly gifted races only, but of all mankind, and thus at enabling us to follow the long march, the slow and toilsome ascent, of humanity from savagery to civilization. And as the scholar of the Renaissance found not merely fresh food for thought but a new field of labor in the dusty and faded manuscripts of Greece and Rome, so in the mass of materials that is steadily pouring in from many sides?from buried cities of remotest antiquity as well as from the rudest savages of the desert and the jungle?we of to-day must recognize a new province of knowledge which will task the energies of generations of students to master.
When a tree comes to be viewed, no longer as the body of the tree spirit, but simply as its abode which it can quit at pleasure, an important advance has been made in religious thought.
For ages the army of spirits, once so near, has been receding farther and farther from us, banished by the magic wand of science from hearth and home, from ruined cell and ivied tower, from haunted glade and lonely mere, from the riven murky cloud that belches forth lightning, and from those fairer clouds that pillow the silvery moon or fret with flakes of burning red the golden eve.
In course of time the slow advance of knowledge, which has dispelled so many cherished illusions, convinced at least the more thoughtful portion of mankind that the alterations of summer and winter, of spring and autumn, were not merely the result of their own magical rites, but that some deeper cause, some mightier power, was at work behind the shifting scenes of nature.
So in Scotland witches used to raise the wind by dipping a rag in water and beating it thrice on a stone, saying: I knock this rag upon this stain. To raise the wind in the devil?s name, It shall not lie till I please again.
The primary aim of this book is to explain the remarkable rule which regulated the succession to the priesthood of Diana at Aricia.
With the advance of knowledge, therefore, prayer and sacrifice assume the leading place in religious ritual; and magic; which once ranked with them as a legitimate equal, is gradually relegated to the background and sinks to the level of a black art.
For extending its sway, partly by force of arms, partly by the voluntary submission of weaker tribes, the community soon acquires wealth and slaves, both of which, by relieving some classes from the perpetual struggle for a bare subsistence, afford them an opportunity of devoting themselves to that disinterested pursuit of knowledge which is the noblest and most powerful instrument to ameliorate the lot of man.
In general terms we ask how the presence of superstitions in a society continue to have access to a higher level of culture, natural among people the answer to this question, we find universal and indestructible in inequality. Only different races intelligence, courage is not provided in varying degrees of diligence and similar matters; they vary greatly in terms of persons belonging to the same race innate capacities and qualities. No other doctrine is false and baseless than the doctrine of human equality. Anyone acting as an equal of that law is correct, because the necessary laws are general and can be made ??to suit the individual situation in an infinite number. But people cannot even think they are equal before the law says in essence...The wit and the strength of character leads the survivors and people who have shaped patterns that are formed in at least the contours of the society. The number of people in such countries where the majority of the executive power for the leadership they have relatively fewer so-called numerical majority is managed by the community, even on the basis of the will of an enlightened minority scanned. So whatever we try to hide the fact, human management aristocratic essence is always and everywhere...Although it may seem like the majority of leadership it is also scarce traces of intelligent quick-witted minority in the end. This is the secret of liberation and advancement of minorities. If the mind how people give dominion over animals, which are superior to human intelligence in directing further down. Title holder of managers determine the direction of the society that kings, I do not say that the state or law enforcement officials. Real ruler of men are thinkers who advance science; If the mind is not how people establish domination by force over the other animals, which is more direct and control social forces in the long term among the people...The struggle for existence in the mental space is severe and deadly as in physical space, better ideas prevail in the end we call reality.
Some of the old laws of Israel are clearly savage taboos of a familiar type thinly disguised as commands of the Deity.
The propensity to excessive simplification is indeed natural to the mind of man, since it is only by abstraction and generalization, which necessarily imply the neglect of a multitude of particulars, that he can stretch his puny faculties so as to embrace a minute portion of the illimitable vastness of the universe.
Yet it would be unfair to the generality of our kind to ascribe to their intellectual and moral weakness the gradual divergence of Buddhism and Christianity from their primitive patterns. For it should not be forgotten that by their glorification of poverty and celibacy both these religions struck straight at the root not merely of civil society but of human existence. The blow was parried by the wisdom or the folly of the vast majority of mankind, who refused to purchase a chance of saving their souls with the certainty of extinguishing the species.
For myth changes while custom remains constant; men continue to do what their did before them, though the reasons on which their fathers acted have been long forgotten.The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.