Science and magic

The serious magical endeavor and the serious scientific endeavour are twins: one was sickly and died, the other strong and throve.  But they were twins.  They were born of the same impulse. . . .  There is something which unites magic and applied science while separating both from the ‘wisdom’ of earlier ages.  For the wise men of old the cardinal problem had been how to conform the soul to reality, and the solution had been knowledge, self-discipline, and virtue.  For magic and applied science alike the problem is how to subdue reality to the wishes of men: the solution is a technique; and both, in the practice of this technique, are ready to do things hitherto regarded as disgusting and impious—such as digging up and mutilating the dead.

C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man 48 (1947).  Lewis, of course, does not so condemn all scientists, or even all technique, but points out (as have many others since) that the parallels between magic and science are striking and perhaps more striking than their differences.  The alchemists did experiments, too.

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