Magic & philosophy
November 24-25, 2016
ENS Louis Lumière
20, rue Ampère
93200 La Plaine Saint-Denis
Metro: Carrefour Pleyel (line 13)
In the conference « Science, Magic and Philosophy », Eric Weil, refusing to relegate magic to the past, argues that « not only magic has not disappeared from our world ; on the contrary it plays in it the part of a determinant force ». This is also true of all the times when magic and philosophy coexisted on the stages of thought.
In appearance, the case seems settled: philosophy, since the Greek logos, never stopped to denounce, by the government of reason, magical practices as archaic and nebulous. If, as Henri Bergson notes at the other extremity of the history of philosophy (The Two Sources of Morality and Religion), magic is inseparable from the human condition, it is never a kind of knowledge, but only the rebellion of man against the drying up of his desire ritualizing violent emotions by tolerated practices.
We wish here to follow the opposite path: the one not only of a rationality of magical practices but also of an interparadigmatic node between philosophy and magic – magics (for they are plural) –, the first borrowing some of its heuristic and methodological procedures from the episteme of the second, with the idea that the reverse phenomenon, a sort of feedback effect, from philosophy towards magic, is thus quite likely. Middle Ages and Renaissance constitute privileged territories.
But a symbiotic interaction between philosophy and magic – and also science and magic, art and magic – does not affect just a more or less distant past and actualities of magic for the thought must too be questioned.