Maarten Maartensz:    Philosophical Dictionary | Filosofisch Woordenboek                      

 M - Magic


Magic: What is produced by means one does not understand, and may consider miraculous.

There is a lot of magic in reality in this sense, for there are many things one does not really understand, even if one does not know this.

One relevant sense of "magic" in both philosophy and psychology is that of conjuring: There are professionals (and amateurs) who like to astound audiences by producing intentional illusions. They also call themselves "magicians" or "illusionists", and normally insist that their art is one of deception, while keeping the tricks of their trade secret, since they make money by astounding people by producing beautiful or amusing or amazing illusions.

Quite often the general public including reputable scientists have been tricked by what were in fact conjurors and con-men, who posed as if they were miracle-workers, with superhuman powers or rare abilities, like the reading of minds, ESP, the bending of metal by thought power etc. A recent famous fraudulent hoaxer was Uri Geller.

Also, considerable amounts of supposed ESP, even such as "witnessed" and supported by reputable scientists, was in fact produced by conjuring methods or other means of intentional deceit or falsification.

Some of the books of Martin Gardner - "Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science", and "Science: Good, Bad, Bogus" are both fun to read and quite instructive about human gullibility and conmanship.


See: ESP, Illusion



 Original: Aug 29, 2004                                                Last edited: 12 December 2011.   Top