The Belief in a Conception of Supernatural Causality

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Superstition is a belief in supernatural causality: that one event leads to the cause of another without any physical process linking the two events, such as astrology, omens, witchcraft, etc., that contradicts natural science. Opposition to superstition was a central concern of the intellectuals during the 18th century Age of Enlightenment. The philosophes at that time ridiculed any belief in miracles, revelation, magic, or the supernatural, as "superstition," and typically included as well much of Christian doctrine. The word is often used pejoratively to refer to religious practices (e.g., Voodoo) other than the one prevailing in a given society (e.g., Christianity in western culture), although the prevailing religion may contain just as many supernatural beliefs.[1] It is also commonly applied to beliefs and practices surrounding luck, prophecy and spiritual beings, particularly the belief that future events can be foretold by specific unrelated prior events.The word superstition is first used in English in the 15th century, modelled after an earlier French superstition. The earliest known use as an English noun occurs in Friar Daw's Reply (ca. 1420), where the foure general synnes are emumerated as Cediciouns, supersticions, þe glotouns, & þe proude. The French word, together with its Romance cognates (Italian superstizione, Spanish supersticion, Portuguese superstição, Catalan superstició) continues Latin superstitio. From its first use in the Classical Latin of Livy and Ovid (1st century BC), the term is used in the pejorative sense it still holds today, of an excessive fear of the gods or unreasonable religious belief, as opposed to religio, the proper, reasonable awe of the gods. While the formation of the Latin word is clear, from the verb super-stare, "to stand over, stand upon; survive", its original intended sense is less than clear. It can be interpreted as "‘standing over a thing in amazement or awe",but other possibilities have been suggested,...
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