Sunday, October 12, 2014

Some Thoughts About Magical Thinking (So-called)

I once wrote a post about my animistic childhood. It seems to me from what I've investigated that animism is a natural view that slowly - but not completely, psychologists assure us - gets educated out of us.

Also, it seems that most psychologists and other students of the human psyche are convinced "magical thinking" is innate, a product of the evolution of the human mind.

Nothing about that troubles me. It seems to me as natural as nudity (after all, we are born naked and must be taught to wear clothing, and usually that takes years!). However, "magical thinking" so-called is considered bad form among adults similarly to public nudity. We are slowly but methodically taught to suppress it.

Lately I've found myself working back towards the animism of my youth, back towards panpsychism (defined by the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy as "the view that all things have a mind or a mind-like quality"). I've gone back to listening to my instincts and intuition more, allowing these more of a role in my analysis of things.

It is all well and good to point out that these are primitive and pre-educational ideas. Again I have no problem with that. But I think that doesn't necessarily sound the death knell. I would point out that very young children soon discover the law of gravity naturally enough without science classes and technical information. Of course the how is always helpful in understanding the why. But the "hows" are sometimes very slow in coming. So why close our minds prematurely?

Don't assume I'm turning my back on the scientific worldview. But I am coming to grips more with how sometimes yesterday's superstitions can become tomorrow's scientific knowledge. Folk wisdom often becomes accepted scientific knowledge (chicken soup anyone?).

In my personal worldview (which is always open to revision) science and spirituality do intersect and are not necessarily opponents. Magic works for me as a metaphor for that which we don't fully understand; it embraces the wonderment that basic elements can somehow coalesce into magnificent complexity. 


  1. Yes, just because something is 'primitive' doesn't mean that it has actually been superseded or that it's invalid. There's more in heaven and earth, and all that.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Eva.

      Can we trust our intuitions? I don't deny our inner sense of things can be fooled or mistaken. Yet I believe it can become suppressed and distorted by modern scientific thinking.

      I appreciate how well insects and the "lower animals" get along in the world with just their inner compasses. I have a conviction that primitive humans tend to be too lightly regarded in ability to make sense of things as well.

      I suspect the hide-bound skeptics have a created a myth of their own about primitive belief in magic. Sure, we have the superstitious with us always. But perhaps most folks have always been open-minded.