Magic, Science and Religion MSR 122 sec 4

 Anthony Wallace Revitalization Movement

Time: Tues - Thurs 3- 4.15PM Sweeny Hall 314 a


This course is designed to pose the question ‘what difference does it make what cosmologies, beliefs, and practices people and/or societies around the globe advocate, and even more important, what are the consequences of those beliefs and practices?’ Throughout the term, we will explore the ways in which peoples have attempted to understand and gain mastery over the human, natural and/or supernatural worlds. We will begin with a brief summary of evolutionary, functionalist, structuralist, and culturalist approaches to magic, science and religion. The emphasis of the course, however, will be on the importance of cosmology, worldviews and shifting paradigms. The questions we will be interested in exploring include: What are the differences between magic, science and religion? Are they contradictory or complementary? Are they used for the same purposes? Do they ever merge or blend? What happens when religious cosmology and scientific paradigms conflict in the understanding of the universe, nature, society, and the role of the individual? In addition, we spend a good deal of time on the rise of mass movements, particularly under colonial and post-colonial conditions, when cosmological conflict is both widespread and potentially virulent. We explore the life cycle of mass movements—from nativistic to millenarian—in the quest to create a more satisfying culture. We look at and compare the intended and unintended consequences of such movements, both historically and on the contemporary global stage, focusing for the most part upon societies outside the U.S. The theoretical lenses employed in MSR help students not only understand contemporary cosmological conflicts, but also predict probable and/or inevitable outcomes to such conflict. This course should be of interest to students of science (both theoretical and applied),technology and industry as well as philosophy, anthropology, social and behavioral sciences, and the humanities and the arts.



documents ( readings and lectures)


Online Resources