Magic, Science & Religion and Other Essays
In the same way that Frazer mapped out new worlds for modern anthropologists by rediscovering a common poetry in the mythologies of ‘primitive’ and ‘higher’ cultures, so Malinowski, through his famous studies of the Melanesian peoples, rediscovered a common poetry in daily living. By exploring the rhythm of work and ritual among primitive peoples, he revealed to us essential truths about mankind and contemporary culture.
This classic book contains three of Malinowski’s key essays. In the essay ‘Magic, Science and Religion’ Malinowski outlines his discovery that scientific knowledge is common to all peoples, even the most primitive, but religion and magic are special means by which man in a specific culture reconciles his place in the universe.
The second essay, ‘Myth in Primitive Psychology’, was written as a tribute to Sir James Frazer, where Malinowski links myth with magic as a source of ethical and philosophical ideas, stressing the changing relationship with the culture that produces it.
In the final essay, ‘Baloma’, Malinowski describes beliefs found in the Trobriand Islands regarding the spirits of the dead and explains his ideas on the functional link between behaviour, belief and society.
Malinowski’s great contributions to anthropology were to demonstrate the importance of field work and to find the universal in the particular. Magic, Science & Religion is an introduction to Malinowski’s anthropological work that captures his lucid, elegant style while outlining the themes that dominated his work.
“To anyone interested in human nature however little they may know or care about formal anthropology, I can unreservedly recommend Magic, Science and Religion.”
‘The Irish Times’
“A welcome reprint in a single volume of three influential essays… Written in his beautifully lucid, elegant style… a classic of anthropological literature.”
‘Love & Language’