The magical thinker has a complex of symptoms and deficiencies which is variously called Romanticism by David Brin, or Intuitionism, or Intuitive thinking, or Magical thinking, or when I'm feeling pejorative, monkey thinking. They are incapable of reasoning about abstractions because they have a mental handicap similar to but infinitely worse than dyslexia.
A dyslexic sufferer perceives the world as having symbols (barely above perceptions) to be jumping around and not staying still. They'll look at a page and the letters and numbers will be shifting. An extremely strong dyslexic would be incapable of learning to read.
Magical thinkers are much worse off because it isn't symbols that are jumping around but raw concepts. Just like a dyslexic can't read because the letters keep moving, so a magical thinker can't reason (assemble and disassemble ideas out of concepts) because the concepts keep moving around in their head.
Because of this they rely on pseudo-thinking, or lower-level thinking. This lower level thinking, the first three levels of Bloom's taxonomy of cognition, consists of strictly applying the concepts already in their possession. Basically, they are rearranging their prejudices and fitting concrete perceptions to already existing abstractions. Since assimilating (creating) new abstractions is as painful to the magical thinker as learning to read is to the dyslexic (except you only learn to read once) the magical thinker avoids forming new abstractions at all costs.
As a result of this, the magical thinker relies completely on a given set of 'received' abstractions. Abstractions like "nigger". Bingo, there you have racism. But also abstractions like "soul". It should interest you to read Jesse Bering's The God Fossil. Essentially, belief in souls (conservation of qualia / permanence of consciousness) is either innate or learned extremely early. It is only as a young child that most people abandon this belief.
Magical thinkers evidently can't discard such a concept because they 1) rely on it too much, or 2) can't assimilate structural identity. Structural identity by the way is the understanding that a molecule of CO2 is absolutely identical to any other molecule of CO2. Not "the same kind" but absolutely identical. Many (most? all?) magical thinkers cannot understand this concept. They believe that a molecule of CO2 has an essence that designates its identity. That it has a soul.
Other non-abstract "abstractions" which magical thinkers rely on and never learn to discard include emotions and anthropogenic thinking. You see this when religionists anthropomorphize the physical universe in a god. You also see this in eco-zealots when they anthropomorphize nature. Think of Mother Nature, Gaia, "nature will punish us", blah blah blah. You see this also in animal "rights" activists. The notion of assigning morality or rights to animals is self-contradictory gibberish because animals can't reason. That doesn't stop animal "lovers" from saying that animals are "just like us". Or hey, maybe they are. Maybe animals are just like them. Which would give us humans leave to slaughter them like cattle.
That's another problem with magical thinking. Because it is so unsophisticated, it is highly symmetric. It's based on raw associations, correlations, and not more complex asymmetric relations, causations. And the arrow of causality usually doesn't run the way the magical thinker would like it to.
Furthermore, since magical thinkers are incapable of reasoning, but sometimes capable of synthesis, it stands to reason that they would fuck up synthesis. That is, they do not comprehend synthesis. This explains why magical thinkers routinely confuse insight (a product of synthesis) with gibberish. Literal gibberish, sentences that do not have any meaning because they are either not well-formed or are self-contradictory. Generally, magical thinkers do not recognize self-contradiction because they cannot apply modus ponens. The deep magical thinkers think that contradictions are insights. For example: the Mystery of Christianity which is their "three in one" god. "mystery" is just a euphemism for gibberish.
Now consider the fact that magical thinkers confuse gibberish with insight, and that they believe in souls. Suddenly you have spirits and ghosts. If you actually reason about spirits you will realize why they are gibberish. Spirits are not actually non-corporeal because can be seen and affect matter. But they are also not corporeal because they can pass through solid objects. They're gibberish.
The interesting question is why this particular gibberish came about. The answer to this can be found in Lloyd deMause's Foundations of Psychohistory. Humanity was born deeply psychotic and hallucinatory. Hallucinations have many of the traits ascribed to spirits.
The same answer can be found in Julian Jaynes' The Origin Of Consciousness since human beings living three millenia ago constantly hallucinated gods and other divine beings. It was an efficient way for one hemisphere of the brain to communicate with the other hemisphere. And indeed, this explains the importance ascribed to numerology and incantations. Numbers and letters, symbols, are powerful Magic to primitive people. Because they fulfill the crucial function of intra-cranial communication.
Symbols, together with souls, constitutes the whole foundation of any mystical system. Think of JRR Tolkien's fondness for languages and his reliance on Spirits to describe LOTR's cosmogeny. So we see that this explanation describes a great many phenomena.
But the reason why I dragged out Jaynes and deMause is to outline a simple fact. Magical thinkers rely on thought processes and on "abstractions" which have reached us *from the dawn of time*. I do not believe the concepts involved are actually abstract, they are far too innate.
And since magical thinkers are incapable of reasoning and usually incapable of insight, since they depend on others for the few abstractions they can memorize by rote, this explains their obsession with Revelation. And since they have no ability to reason, since they are incapable of evaluating truth, since they have no access to truth, it also explains the various Relativisms. Especially intellectual relativism, where supposedly objective truth does not exist. Recognizing the existence of objective truth would require them to accept they are mentally handicapped and intellectually inferior.
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