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The Reenchantment of the World Paperback – November 30, 1981

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press (November 30, 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801492254
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801492259
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #466,596 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This pioneering holistic work is still one of the best discussions of the spiritual havoc wrought by the 'disgodding' of nature and the split in the Western mind between facts and values."—Chip Brown, The List

"Morris Berman's book addresses what I consider to be the most important topic at our present moment in history. He is searching for the underpinnings of a new world view that can give rise to a culture capable of relating gently and self-sustainingly to the earth."—Frederick Ferré

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

86 of 90 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is a criticism of the Cartesian scientific worldview, which during the past 400 years has reduced the world (including ourselves) to a mere collection of alienated objects, with disastrous social, psychological and ecological consequences. The Re-enchantment of the World is the beginnings of an attempt to create an epistemology of participating consciousness, i.e., experiencing the world sensuously and viscerally as well as rationally. Such an experience (largely now foreign to our scientific, industrial culture) infuses life with meaning and a deep sense of belonging.
Drawing on quantum mechanics and the work of Gregory Bateson, Berman argues that Cartesianism is inaccurate as well as outdated. With a PhD in the History of Science from Johns Hopkins, he demonstrates that modern science, far from being a beacon of emerging ultimate truth, is part of a cultural gestalt that evolved together with the rise of capitalism. In a particularly fascinating part of the book, Berman makes the case that Isaac Newton's repressions, neuroses and inner conflicts became those of the world he influenced so profoundly.
This book is not an argument for mysticism or "naive animism", but for a more mature, holistic, benign science. Berman's scholarship is rigorous, and I am in awe of his research ability. A challenging, rewarding, important book that charts a pathway to a better future.
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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful By asphodel@iaccess.com.au on March 19, 1998
Format: Paperback
asphodel@iaccess.com.au from Bendigo Australia, 03/19/98, rating=8: Towards a New Metaphysic by Ian Irvine, for 'The Animist' Electronic Journal, asphodel@iaccess.com.au This ambitious and thought provoking work redefines two concepts few modern Westerners would recognise to be central to both the past and the future of the human species. The two concepts are 'enchantment' and 'disenchantment'. In Berman's text, these concepts carry much more weight than they do to the average person on the street. In the text they are defined and juxtaposed in relation to an overview of human psycho-history from primitivity to the present. In this sense, 'enchantment' relates to the inner perception of self, community and cosmos as 'animated', 'alive', replete with 'soul' and 'meaning'. In an less positive sense, 'disenchantment', according to Berman, is the condition of percieving those same things from a narrow 'materialistic' perspective alone. The disenchanted mind reduces/explains away people, animals, plants, community, nature etc. as mere chance events, chemical reactions, in short, as 'matter without soul or mind'. As you can see, Berman is hard indeed on the Cartesian worlview, critiquing it for the psycho-spiritual poverty and soul instability it fosters. To rectify the problem, Berman calls for a 'new animism' or 'pantheism'. To this end, he reworks Reichian, Batesonian/Cybernetic and, to a lesser extent, Jungian, insights, in an attempt to give birth to a less alienated worldview which might better serve our species into the new millenium. His own contributions to that outlook he labels 'A Prolegomena to a new Metaphysic.Read more ›
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Green Stone on May 10, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this book, Berman accurately assesses the essential problem or dysfunctionality of the Cartesian approach to the world, and suggests that a "re-enchantment" of the world is needed. The problem is, he ultimately cannot humble his intellect sufficiently in order to allow such a re-enchantment to occur for himself, or those he would guide. I differ completely from those reviewers who feel that Berman is too "emotional" in this book (hardly!), or is "anti-scientific." He is "scientific" from beginning to end, and that is the problem!

Berman describes the inherent problem in the mechanistic, atomistic Cartesian worldview, which came into prominence in the late 1500's: its arrogance that the observer could be separated from that which is observed, indeed its INSISTENCE on such an artificial separation. He argues that animist and even medieval alchemical worldviews contained more of the necessary "original participation" to allow for a "sensuous intellect" to be cultivated, where things could be learned through the manner that modern science actually shows IS the way that we learn: "through osmosis" or tacit knowing. Yet, Berman regards both Carl Jung and William Reich, whose works he feels transcended the Cartesian paradigm (pg 156) as inadequate to present us with a model forward. He felt Jung took an anti-intellectual approach and would have us return to "naive animism." He also felt Reich was anti-intellectual. He tidily and with enormous dismissive condescension sums up all present-day mystical and occult "philosophies" as "winding up dispensing with thought altogether", and turns to cultural anthropologist Gregory Bateson to provide his final complicated scientific "answer" to re-enchanting the world.
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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful By "digitusdei" on June 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
Far from being antiscientific, with definitive precision Berman demonstrates the neurotic distortions that the Cartesian paradigm has set in motion, revealing his visionary comprehension of the human experience and his insight into the entire Man, mind, body and soul.
He treats Newton with all fairness, unmoved by the applause of the sterile masses of University elite which have elevated the man to Godhood throughout the centuries. As the psalmist says, "What is Man but a breath that passes?...Where were you when I laid the foundations of the deep?"
Any world veiw that forgets this human composition must necessarily lead to severe disruption of the human family. Science, divorced from reason, wisdom tradition, and high theology, and the objective methods upon which it was founded, will lead to an impoverishing rationalism that starves the soul. It will become a sort of false magic entrancing men with debasing theories, desecting Man into a mere biologic product. Hence the rise of mass genocides in the 20th century.
This was an excellent read which deeply effected the course of my studies for years.
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