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+1 vote
are magic and science actually distinct concepts?
by (390 points)

i read an article on this subject that you might enjoy...

it speaks about magic and science (and money and education)...

I have no answer, but this is an interesting question on a philosophical level, while being ridiculous on the practical level (people who "do magic" or are "witchy" make me want to punch standerbys at random). I did like D&D as a teen though...

I've been around a lot of witches. Queer and eco oriented folks, mostly. They don't bother me. I did get yelled at when I accused a witch of sneaking off with all the candles. I probably could have handled that better and they were uptight as all-get-out.

These are things that I've read about anarchy and magic

1) To Rust Metallic Gods: An Anarcho-Primitivist Critique of Paganism

2) Gods&Radicals - "we’re a registered non-profit Pagan Anti-Capitalist publisher"   (the link is a recent essay)

Also, I just checked The Anarchist Library and there are a ton of very recent up-loads on "magic."

I have an International Relations essay that I'm avoiding right now. I get really chatty online when essays are due... in a few hours.

anarchy101 is my favorite class.

1 Answer

0 votes

Recent studies in quantum physics suggest to me that science itself can be pretty magical. Back when I was in elementary and high school, I always hated math and science because it was taught in such a dry, decontextualized way. However, I find that, as I get older and start to flesh out some of the philosophical implications of certain scientific theories, the more a lot of it fascinates me and I wish I understood it better. 

For instance, I'm really interested in the whole idea of "wave/particle duality" and how it seems to fly in the face of the "law of the excluded middle." If you aren't familiar with the "double-slit experiment," here's a video that explains it in a pretty accessible way:

As for the law of the excluded middle, this is a principle of classical logic which states that a proposition cannot simultaneously be both true and false, just as an object cannot simultaneously be both itself and its opposite. However, in the case of an electron, it seems we have an example of something that can be both itself and its opposite - i.e. both a particle and a wave.

Another aspect of quantum physics that strikes me as pretty magical is the theory of "loop quantum cosmology," which replaces the idea of the "big bang" with that of a "big bounce." According to this theory, Time and Space did not begin with the big bang. In stead, the emergence of our current universe and everything in it resulted from the collapse (or "big crunch") of a previous universe. If true, this theory would fundamentally undermine so-called "common sense" understandings of time as a linear succession of moments, not to mention the nature of causality itself. Loop quantum cosmology makes it possible to conceive of an infinite number of universes infinitely contracting and expanding, without beginning and without end.  

Anyway, this is the best effort of my layperson's brain to understand and explain something that does not come naturally to me. I've obviously not even begun to scratch the surface and could be completely out to lunch in my speculations. With that said, it appears to me that "Science" (in the sense of institutionalized scientific research) is currently experiencing a crisis in which the "Scientific Method" itself is being forced to confront its own limits. Science does not require "magic" as an independent concept to bring it into conflict with the unexplainable. Old discourses about deterministic causality and the linearity of time are rapidly becoming antiquated and untenable. If anarchism doesn't adapt to these changing times, it too will be left in the dust of collapsed universes.

by (840 points)
edited by
hey MD, i appreciate your effort here. i do with you'd said more about the anarchy part of the question (but note that i'm not making an attempt myself ;) )

In an indirect way, it kind of does address the anarchy part of the question, although perhaps not in a way that's immediately apparent. What I was getting at is that the historically normative understanding of anarchist theory is built on outdated epistemic foundations that recent scientific studies are revealing as wholly inadequate. Saul Newman made this same point in The Politics of Postanarchism when he said that,

Anarchist theory is still largely based in the paradigm of Enlightenment humanism — with its essentialist notions of the rational human subject, and its positivistic faith in science and objective historical laws. Just as Marxism was limited politically by its own categories of class and economic determinism, as well as by its dialectical view of historical development, anarchism can also be said to be limited by its epistemological anchoring in the essentialist and rationalist discourses of Enlightenment humanism.


Whether it's clinging to essentialist notions about "the Working Class" as a collective "historical Subject" or viewing "revolution" as a dialectically preordained "historical moment" residing in an abstract future, anarchism is long overdue for a radical overhaul of its most basic presuppositions. By challenging "common sense" ideas about the very nature of time and causality, recent studies in quantum physics help to illustrate this necessity more clearly now than ever before.