summary of The Notion of Witchcraft

Essay by jasmmmmUniversity, Bachelor's October 2014

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This essay mainly examines the phenomenon existing in Zande thought, where witchcraft explains the relation between men and the bad luck and is the prescribed way to solve it. According to Azande, any misfortune fall on anyone at any time and in relation to any of the manifold activities of his life is probably due to witchcraft.

Witchcraft to an Azande is a commonplace happening to him. The author further gives detailed examples to illustrate that the witchcraft participates in all misfortunes and is the idiom which Azande speak of them.

However, he also pointed out that the Azande don't attempt to account for all causations of misfortunes to be mystical causations alone. He uses examples of experienced woodcrafter and potter whose work occasionally split or broke during the process. They attribute the "abnormal" failure, or we say, bad luck to be of the witchcraft, since they exercised the same procedure as other well-conditioned substance were produced.

Using this example, Evans Pritchard supports his idea that it's false to solely impute the phenomena to mystical things in Zande philosophy. In other words, what they explained by witchcraft is only the specific conditions among a chain of causations.

Also, using example of his friend Ongosi and people getting injured under a collapsing granary, author shows the further deeper difference between our thoughts and the Azande. While we think the two things are independent and only by accident happen at the same time, the Azande uses witchcraft to fill in the missing link. Witchcraft in this case explains the coincidence of the two happenings.

The perception of how events occur in Zande mind is as clear as our own. Their belief in witchcraft is not contradicting empirical knowledge of causation. However, as it is the only social factor in the...