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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » Magic as a gateway to occultism (3 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Pop Haydn
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Quote:
On Nov 4, 2017, tommy wrote:
Computers are machines which can play chess but are they magic?


No. But they would have seemed so to people in the 18th Century.
tommy
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Isn’t the Chess Playing Turk still magic today?

What century are you from?
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
thatmichaelguy
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Quote:
On Nov 5, 2017, Pop Haydn wrote:
Quote:
On Nov 4, 2017, tommy wrote:
Computers are machines which can play chess but are they magic?


No. But they would have seemed so to people in the 18th Century.


Precisely. It depends on your frame of reference. As Arthur C. Clarke put it, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
tommy
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If as Arthur C. Clarke put it "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic," was true then-then the opposite would also to be true. Chess Playing Turk would not be magic anymore now that machines can think and play chess but despite this fact it is. Why is Chess Playing Turk? Why because the Chess Playing Turk cannot think and play but does anyway whereas can computes can think and play chess and therefore not magic. Computers would not have been 18th Century they would have been science, just as they were when they came to be and are today. Magic is that which cannot be but is anyhow, thus it creates a dilemma.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Pop Haydn
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Quote:
On Nov 7, 2017, tommy wrote:
If as Arthur C. Clarke put it "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic," was true then-then the opposite would also to be true. Chess Playing Turk would not be magic anymore now that machines can think and play chess but despite this fact it is. Why is Chess Playing Turk? Why because the Chess Playing Turk cannot think and play but does anyway whereas can computes can think and play chess and therefore not magic. Computers would not have been 18th Century they would have been science, just as they were when they came to be and are today. Magic is that which cannot be but is anyhow, thus it creates a dilemma.


A machine that can think is no longer considered "Impossible!" In the 1780's, it was impossible.
thatmichaelguy
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Quote:
On Nov 7, 2017, tommy wrote:
If as Arthur C. Clarke put it "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic," was true then-then the opposite would also to be true. Chess Playing Turk would not be magic anymore now that machines can think and play chess but despite this fact it is. Why is Chess Playing Turk? Why because the Chess Playing Turk cannot think and play but does anyway whereas can computes can think and play chess and therefore not magic. Computers would not have been 18th Century they would have been science, just as they were when they came to be and are today. Magic is that which cannot be but is anyhow, thus it creates a dilemma.


There is a bit of flawed logic in your first sentence. The inverse of a conditional statement is not necessarily true even if the conditional statement is true. It would be like saying, "If it is true that 'Any red ball is a primary color' then it is also true that 'Any non-red ball is not a primary color.'" I think it's easy to understand why that is faulty reasoning. So, it does not necessarily follow that if we accept Arthur C. Clarke's position that we must also accept the "opposite" position that any non-sufficiently advanced technology would be distinguishable from magic.

With that out of the way, I think you're also falsely equivocating the word machine. An automaton and a computer are not both machines in the same sense of the word. An automaton is ostensibly purely mechanical (except in instances where the actual work is being hidden) and a computer is not.

The differentiation, as Pop Haydn has pointed out, is in what we understand to be technologically possible. In the 1780s, both the Chess Playing Turk and a modern computer would have been seen as not possible - their inner workings viewed as magical or without comprehensible explanation. Today though we understand the how and why of computers "thinking" (they don't really think, but that's another discussion entirely) so it isn't magic; however, we would still view a purely mechanical machine that somehow possesses the ability to "think" as not possible, and that falls squarely within your definition of magic - that which cannot be yet somehow still is.
tommy
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If a machine that can think is no longer considered "Impossible!" then the Chess Playing Turk would not be magic today but I put to you that the Chess Playing Turk is still magic today. That is to people who have not been told the secret of course.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On Nov 5, 2017, tommy wrote:
Isn’t the Chess Playing Turk still magic today?

What century are you from?


It didn't just play chess - it won the games.

Cut the electrical power and watch the "magic" not happen for audiences. Context. There's a century of infrastructure behind our power/light/communications/computing - more than just a man behind the curtain.

A. C. Clarke did not write so much about magic. He stumbled around the notions a few times in his "Profiles of the Future" though.
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Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On Nov 7, 2017, thatmichaelguy wrote:
...In the 1780s, both the Chess Playing Turk [snip] a purely mechanical machine that somehow possesses the ability to
... play and often win chess games.

Was wondrous. Not magical. More impressive than Robert-Houdin's "Antonio" acrobat item.
Pop posted elsewhere about a guy who carried a tiny optical calculator that figured out the day of the week... that's closer to what the Turk was in effect.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Pop Haydn
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The Chess Playing Turk today would not seem nearly so impossible. We would have to "prove" the clockwork was not being operated by a small hidden computer. It isn't just the method, it is the seeming "impossibility" that has changed. "No possible explanation" goes to "could be some kind of computer involved..."

To build a chess playing machine out of clockwork would be so big and complex as to be nonsensical. But the idea of a machine that could think became an intriguing possibility for the intelligentsia.
funsway
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Two memorable statements back-to-back ...

"Was wondrous. Not magical." and "It is the seemingly 'impossible' that has changed."

Is being wondrous today enough to astonish and beguile?

Is even a simple magic effect performed "live" enough to seem wondrous for those spectators with mostly vicarious experience?

Are efforts to provide "strong magic" wasted - the distinction unrecognizable?


...

many computer based gizmos' are now claimed to have "artificial intelligence" with AI a marketing label.
This is mostly because the definition of AI has changed since the late 80's when the excitement began.

It may well be that a computer can reason better than most human's today, but that is not because computers have advanced Smile
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



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Dannydoyle
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Quote:
On Nov 7, 2017, Pop Haydn wrote:
Quote:
On Nov 7, 2017, tommy wrote:
If as Arthur C. Clarke put it "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic," was true then-then the opposite would also to be true. Chess Playing Turk would not be magic anymore now that machines can think and play chess but despite this fact it is. Why is Chess Playing Turk? Why because the Chess Playing Turk cannot think and play but does anyway whereas can computes can think and play chess and therefore not magic. Computers would not have been 18th Century they would have been science, just as they were when they came to be and are today. Magic is that which cannot be but is anyhow, thus it creates a dilemma.


A machine that can think is no longer considered "Impossible!" In the 1780's, it was impossible.


Today the difficulty seems to lie in finding people who can think! THAT is seeming more and more impossible.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
tommy
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If a scientist, an engineer, a mechanic, examined the Chess Playing Turk, without knowing the secret, he would have to conclude that, it cannot play chess, yet it plays! Likewise, Pop's teleport machine will always be magic even if in the future somebody invents one because everyone knows Pops machine cannot work but does anyway. Magic is that which cannot be but is: such is the dilemma.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Doc Willie
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To go 180 degrees on this, Bill Nye suggested that teaching magic to children was a good way to introduce them to skeptical thinking. I am still trying to retrace his thinking on this.
Dannydoyle
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It is tough for me to think of magic as anything but entertainment.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
funsway
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Quote:
On Nov 11, 2017, Dannydoyle wrote:
It is tough for me to think of magic as anything but entertainment.



at the other end of the dialectic is "if it is only for entertainment, it isn't magic."

Somewhere in between is a place of balance where most performers can sit.

Exciting!
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



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Dannydoyle
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I have as of yet to see something that would be defined as "magic". Magic meaning a supernatural explanation as opposed to a method.

Tricks have indeed fooled me, but that in no way makes them supernatural.

I have not said that such a thing does NOT exist, only that I have yet to see it. So for most people all magic is entertainment.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
tommy
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The Egyptians figured that a spirit gave birth to physical universe which had inherited a spiritual aspect. The Egyptians figured that the physical could be controlled by the spirit and vice versa. Out of this you have the idea of what magic is all about, which in a word is evocation. i.e. Creating a building which has the effect of cheering people up, lifting their spirit, would be magic to the Egyptians. It is a sort of spiritual science. The modern word for it might be psychology. The secret knowledge of how to do it is occult. Art, including our magic, is essentially about lifting the spirit: we build an act that which they enjoy. It is not called Art for nothing, it is to do with the heart, the soul, the emotional part of human nature; the seat of the feelings or sentiments, as much as the mind. The soul is the principle of life, feeling, thought, and action in humans, regarded as a distinct entity separate from the body, and commonly held to be separable in existence from the body; the spiritual part of humans as distinct from the physical part. Is the soul supernatural? Whether we have a soul or not, does not matter, because the idea of it exists in the minds of men. Magicians essentially play with such mysterious notions for amusement, whereas the charlatans make believe it is a real ability. Thinking along these spiritual lines only however can restrict the creative mind. When it comes to performing magic we want to able to do all sorts of things, such as things which appear to be advance science as Pop indicates. A magician must not only do magic to satisfy the mind but also make it entertaining to satisfy the heart equally, which brings us back to what the Egyptians figured out long ago. As above
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
funsway
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Quote:
On Nov 11, 2017, Dannydoyle wrote:

Magic meaning a supernatural explanation as opposed to a method.



Ah -- I don't accept that definition. If that is what you think magic means, then I can understand why you never see it.

Actually, I do no think it is possible to define magic for someone else. It is enough to know that others do find magic in life, and even in what you do.

You can choose to define magic in a way that you will never experience it, or define it in a way that it happens every day. Possibly,
"magic is 'inexplicable phenomena' - either it has NO explanation or needs no explanation."

I folks observing me "pretend at magic" start looking for supernatural cause, I have failed to create a setting where magic can happen in their mind.
They do not "see magic" in what I do - they find it within themselves as a defiance of the trained concept of "must be an answer."

In a similar fashion, one can entertain themselves or look to others to do it for them. More money in the latter view, so go for it!
If you definition allows you to make a living out of entertaining others, then it is the right one for you.

My view of magic allowed me to make a living for decades by demonstrations not for entertainment.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



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Dannydoyle
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You can accept or not accept anything you like. But you also can't define things for anyone else
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
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