Small minds cannot grasp great ideas; to their narrow comprehension, their purblind vision, nothing seems really great and important but themselves.

— James G. Frazer

The most cheering James G. Frazer quotes to discover and learn by heart

The Athenians regularly maintained a number of degraded and useless beings at the public expense; and when any calamity, such as plague, drought, or famine, befell the city, they sacrificed two of these outcast scapegoats.

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The second principle of magic: things which have once been in contact with each other continue to act on each other at a distance after the physical contact has been severed.

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It is a common rule with primitive people not to waken a sleeper, because his soul is away and might not have time to get back.

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With the advance of knowledge, therefore, prayer and sacrifice assume the leading place in religious ritual; and magic; which once ranked with them as a legitimate equal, is gradually relegated to the background and sinks to the level of a black art.

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The slow, the never ending approach to truth consists in perpetually forming and testing hypotheses, accepting those at which at the time seem to fit the facts and rejecting the others.

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The question whether our conscious personality survives after death has been answered by almost all races of men in the affirmative.

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The man of science, like the man of letters, is too apt to view mankind only in the abstract, selecting in his consideration only a single side of our complex and many-sided being.

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Even the recognition of an individual whom we see every day is only possible as the result of an abstract idea of him formed by generalization from his appearances in the past.

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The scapegoat upon whom the sins of the people are periodically laid, may also be a human being.

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The moral world is as little exempt as the physical world from the law of ceaseless change, of perpetual flux.

3

The temple of the sylvan goddess, indeed, has vanished, and the King of the Wood no longer stands sentinel over the Golden Bough.

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Yet perhaps no sacrifice is wholly useless which proves there are men who prefer honour to life.

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About James G. Frazer

Quotes 38 sayings
Nationality Scottish
Profession Scientist
Birthday October 16

But once a fool always a fool, and the greater the power in his hands the more disastrous is likely to be the use he makes of it. The heaviest calamity in English history, the breach with America, might never have occurred if George the Third had not been an honest dullard.

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The consideration of human suffering is not one which enters into the calculations of primitive man.

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By religion, then, I understand a propitiation or conciliation of powers superior to man which are believed to direct and control the course of nature and of human life.

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Indeed the influence of music on the development of religion is a subject which would repay a sympathetic study.

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If mankind had always been logical and wise, history would not be a long chronicle of folly and crime.

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In point of fact magicians appear to have often developed into chiefs and kings.

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For extending its sway, partly by force of arms, partly by the voluntary submission of weaker tribes, the community soon acquires wealth and slaves, both of which, by relieving some classes from the perpetual struggle for a bare subsistence, afford them an opportunity of devoting themselves to that disinterested pursuit of knowledge which is the noblest and most powerful instrument to ameliorate the lot of man.

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Man has created gods in his own likeness and being himself mortal he has naturally supposed his creatures to be in the same sad predicament.

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From the earliest times man has been engaged in a search for general rules whereby to turn the order of natural phenomena to his own advantage, and in the long search he has scraped together a great hoard of such maxims, some of them golden and some of them mere dross. The true or golden rules constitute the body of applied science which we call the arts; the false are magic.

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In course of time the slow advance of knowledge, which has dispelled so many cherished illusions, convinced at least the more thoughtful portion of mankind that the alterations of summer and winter, of spring and autumn, were not merely the result of their own magical rites, but that some deeper cause, some mightier power, was at work behind the shifting scenes of nature.

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The awe and dread with which the untutored savage contemplates his mother-in-law are amongst the most familiar facts of anthropology.

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This doctrine of transmigration or reincarnation of the soul is found among many tribes of savages

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For there are strong grounds for thinking that, in the evolution of thought, magic has preceded religion.

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If the test of truth lay in a show of hands or a counting of heads, the system of magic might appeal, with far more reason than the Catholic Church, to the proud motto, 'Quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus' [always, everywhere, and by all], as the sure and certain credential of its own infallibility.

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The abundance, the solidity, and the splendor of the results already achieved by science are well fitted to inspire us with a cheerful confidence in the soundness of its method.

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The world cannot live at the level of its great men.

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In primitive society, where uniformity of occupation is the rule, and the distribution of the community into various classes of workers has hardly begun, every man is more or less his own magician; he practices charms and incantations for his own good and the injury of his enemies.

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Some of the old laws of Israel are clearly savage taboos of a familiar type thinly disguised as commands of the Deity.

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The custom of burning a beneficent god is too foreign to later modes of thought to escape misinterpretation.

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The natives of British Columbia live largely upon the fish which abound in their seas and rivers. If the fish do not come in due season, and the Indians are hungry, A Nootka wizard will make an image of a swimming fish and put it into the water in the direction from which the fish generally appear. This ceremony, accompanied by a prayer to the fish to come, will cause them to arrive at once.

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Dwellers by the sea cannot fail to be impressed by the sight of its ceaseless ebb and flow, and are apt, on the principles of that rude philosophy of sympathy and resemblance... to trace a subtle relation, a secret harmony, between its tides and the life of man... The belief that most deaths happen at ebb tide is said to be held along the east coast of England from Northumberland to Kent.

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I am a plain practical man, not one of your theorists and splitters of hairs and choppers of logic.

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The old notion that the savage is the freest of mankind is the reverse of the truth. He is a slave, not indeed to a visible master, but to the past, to the spirits of his dead forefathers, who haunt his steps from birth to death, and rule him with a rod of iron.

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For when a nation becomes civilized, if it does not drop human sacrifices altogether, it at least selects as victims only such wretches as would be put to death at any rate. Thus the killing of a god may sometimes come to be confounded with the execution of a criminal.

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The advance of knowledge is an infinite progression towards a goal that ever recedes.

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