By George Novack
The increase of a systematic international outlook in old Greece, and the improvement of agriculture, production, and alternate that ready its way.
List of works stated in booklet, index.
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Extra info for The Origins of Materialism: The Evolution of a Scientific View of the World
Whatever reasons may be offered for retaining the ritual, which even many materialists and atheists continue to practice, it harks back to conceptions of life and death belonging to the infancy of mankind. The minds of pre-civilized peoples are dominated by magical and religious views of the world. These are the modes of representing reality characteristic of savagery and barbarism. Peoples living in precivilized conditions have neither the material means nor the cultural needs to ascend to the level of philosophical generalizations.
The uncritical and unconditional identification of the rest of the world with themselves which is at the core of the instinctive materialism of primitive peoples gives birth to that animistic outlook which is the starting point of the religious view of the universe. The principle of animism accounts for events through the agency of personalized natural powers which become supernatural. Animism is common to magic and religion; it later becomes extended through idealism into the field of philosophy.
Contact with the dead and with tombs was supposed to contaminate people and provoke the vengeance of evil spirits unless certain purifying precautions were taken. A child whose parents were dead was not permitted to perform many acts. The Greeks practiced black magic and witchcraft in which images of prospective victims were tortured and buried to deal harm to them. They relied upon 44 The Origins of Materialism the charms and spells of sorcerers to drive demons out of sick people. They were accustomed to offer both animal and human scapegoats to expel evil from their communities and made sacrifices to expiate guilts and propitiate offended supernatural forces.