Religious practices

One must start out with error and convert it into truth.

That is, one must reveal the source of the error, otherwise hearing the truth won’t do any good. The truth cannot force its way in when something else is occupying its place.

To convince someone of the truth, it is not enough to state it, but rather one must find the path from error to truth.


Frazer’s account of the magical and religious views of mankind is unsatisfactory: it makes these views look like errors.

Was Augustine in error, then, when he called upon God on every page of the Confessions?

But– one might say– if he was not in error, surely the Buddhist holy man was– or anyone else– whose religion gives expression to completely different views. But none of them was in error, except when he set forth a theory.


Burning in effigy.  Kissing the picture of one’s beloved.  That is obviously not based on the belief that it will have some specific effect on the object which the picture represents.  It aims at satisfaction and achieves it.  Or rather:  it aims at nothing at all; we just behave this way and then we feel satisfied.


[When I am furious about something, I sometimes beat the ground or a tree with my walking stick.  But I certainly do not believe that the ground is to blame or that my beating can help anything. “I am venting my anger”.  And all rites are of this kind.  Such actions may be called Instinct-actions.–  And an historical explanation, say, that I or my ancestors previously believed that beating the ground does help is shadow-boxing, for it is a superfluous assumption that explains nothing.  The similarity of the action to an act of punishment is important, but nothing more than this can be asserted….]