The Myth of Disenchantment: Magic, Modernity, and the Birth of the Human Sciences
A great many theorists have argued that the defining feature of modernity is that people no longer believe in spirits, myths, or magic. Jason Ā. Josephson-Storm argues that as broad cultural history goes, this narrative is wrong, as attempts to suppress magic have failed more often than they have succeeded. Even the human sciences have been more enchanted than is commonly supposed. But that raises the question: How did a magical, spiritualist, mesmerized Europe ever convince itself that it was disenchanted?
Josephson-Storm traces the history of the myth of disenchantment in the births of philosophy, anthropology, sociology, folklore, psychoanalysis, and religious studies. Ironically, the myth of mythless modernity formed at the very time that Britain, France, and Germany were in the midst of occult and spiritualist revivals. Indeed, Josephson-Storm argues, these disciplines’ founding figures were not only aware of, but profoundly enmeshed in, the occult milieu; and it was specifically in response to this burgeoning culture of spirits and magic that they produced notions of a disenchanted world.
By providing a novel history of the human sciences and their connection to esotericism, The Myth of Disenchantment dispatches with most widely held accounts of modernity and its break from the premodern past.
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Aleister Crowley argued Bacon basic belief Benjamin Blavatsky Burckhardt Cambridge Carnap chapter Chicago Press Christian claim conception contemporary critical theory critique Crowley’s cultural death demons described Dialectic Diderot disenchanted divine enchantment Encyclopédie Enlightenment esoteric esotericism European example fairies famous folklore Frankfurt Frankfurt School Frazer Friedrich George German ghosts Golden Bough Hans Hahn Hegel Horkheimer human Ibid idea imagine Jacobi Kant Klages’s later Lévi Lévi’s logical Ludwig Klages magic magicians Max Weber meaning metaphysics modern Moreover Müller mysticism myth of disenchantment narrative nature Neurath occult Otto Neurath Oxford University Press pagan paranormal philosophy political positivism positivists postmodern Prel primitive Protestant rationality reason reference religion religious studies revival Schiller scholars scientific secularization Sigmund Freud sociology spirits spiritualist Stefan George suggested superstition telepathy Theodor Adorno theosophy thinkers thought tion Tylor University of Chicago Vienna Circle Walter Benjamin witchcraft witches writings York