Sir James George Frazer is a British anthropologist, theologian, and ethnologist. He is the representative of classical social anthropology, who has made a great impact on the development of anthropological science. He is known as the author of The Golden Bough. In this book, Frazer has systematized factual evidence concerning original magic, mythology, totemism, folklore, religious beliefs, and traditions of different cultures.
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George Frazer is famous for his researches on the culture, beliefs, and traditions of ancient nations. In spite of the fact that he has never left England, many of his anthropological researches have been used in understanding colonial and postcolonial studies.
In his investigation, he did no fieldwork relying mostly upon his correspondence with colonial authorities and eyewitness accounts. In his works Totemism and The Golden Bough, he paid much attention to the research of primitive beliefs of nations that populated different colonies.
According to Frazer, in the process of its development, humanity has passed several stages. They are magic, religion, and science. Frazer emphasizes the difference between magic and religion. He states that in the infancy of mankind, magic has preceded religion. Nevertheless, magic has disappeared when religion has emerged.
On the magical stage of the development of humanity, people believed in their abilities to change the surrounding reality by means of magic. Later on, people lost faith in it. In such a way, there emerged the idea that a world was subdued to gods and supernatural forces. In the last stage, humanity rejected this concept too. People began to believe that the world was ruled not by gods, but it was subjected to the laws of nature. The prevailing idea was that by understanding this law, it was possible to rule nature.
Among his most famous works are Totemism and Exogamy, Folklore in the Old Testament, Man, God, and Immorality. Though many of his ideas are criticized even now, Frazers works are used by many contemporary scientists.