The Psychology of Superstition

By Gustav Jahoda | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Superstition as Error

It is in fact a sincere but fallacious system of philosophy, evolved by the human intellect by processes still in great measure intelligible to our own minds, and it has thus an original standing-ground in the world. And though the evidence of fact was dead against it, it was but lately and gradually that this evidence was brought fatally to bear.

Tylor The Origins of Culture

It has just been shown that one cannot divide the peoples of the world into the superstitious and the enlightened, but only into those by and large more or less superstitious. A backward glance into history teaches us the same lesson. The dominant intellectual temper of nineteenth-century Europe was rationalistic. It is epitomized in Comte's and Mill's serene confidence in the capacity of the human mind to bring about orderly progress, as well as in Darwin's shattering demonstration that the human species fits harmoniously into a vast order of nature. However, it must not be forgotten that there was another side; the same period saw the spectacular rise of occultism, by no means confined to the vulgar and ignorant. Alfred Russel Wallace, who independently hit upon the concept of natural selection, was also an ardent believer in the 'miracles'performed by mediums, and wrote a book on the subject. His interest was first aroused when he witnessed some lectures on mesmerism and phrenology by a certain Mr Hall, who purported to prove the correctness of the relationship between 'bumps'on the skull and character with hypnotized subjects. Wallace was severely taken to task for his gullibility by Frederic Engels, who also saw these performances and decided to conduct his own experiments. Engels, together with a friend, hypnotized


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Psychology of Superstition


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 158

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?