Ancient Egypt
Elements of its Cultural History

  by Sjef Willockx

 
 

 

Abstract of: Magic and Religion in Ancient Egypt. Part I: The Roots (2005)

If our goal is, to understand the ancient Egyptians to the point, where we can look through their eyes, to see their world as they saw it, we need to reconstruct, among others, their “way of looking” at the world: their perspective.

To be able to do this, we will have to study their culture. But this will not suffice: we also have to know enough about our own culture to be able to eliminate those elements from our mind that would be alien to his. This would entail a/o the fruits (both sweet and bitter) of science, and the experience that comes from a long and complex history.

To a large extent, the differences between cultures are based on different ideas, or cognitions. The way that we think has a major influence on our emotions and our behavior, which in turn set us apart from others. The cognitions that help to shape a culture will be partly conscious, and partly subconscious. A couple that usually remain subconscious together form the basic perception of reality that is known to philosophers as an ontology. Ontology deals with questions such as:

  • What is the nature of the world, what are its categories, and what are their interrelations?

  • What is the nature of our own existence?

  • What is real, what is valid: what has value, what has not?

This paper focuses on the ontology of the ancient Egyptians, an ontology that regards magic as a craft or technique, with which objects can be manipulated. We will find that this ontology forms the basis for the ancient Egyptian religion.

 

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