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The Myth of Disenchantment: Magic, Modernity, and the Birth of the Human Sciences Paperback – Illustrated, May 16, 2017
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From the Author
- Item Weight : 1.45 pounds
- Paperback : 400 pages
- ISBN-10 : 022640336X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0226403366
- Product Dimensions : 8.9 x 6 x 1.1 inches
- Publisher : University of Chicago Press; Illustrated Edition (May 16, 2017)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #115,429 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I recommend to such a reader a little thought experiment. Close the book, and try to write a paragraph-long history of thought where you explain how it is that academia lost its Christian character in the 19th century and became ruled by secular or atheist forces instead. “As Weber explained, the modern world is a disenchanted one.” But hold on… you just read a book where Josephson-Storm explained in painstaking detail how Weber was fond of mysticism and occultism!
This is the “myth” that he is trying to demonstrate: academics like to mourn how sad it is that the modern world has become past-perfect “disenchanted,” while simultaneously participating in enchanted behaviors that exist very much in their own present day. So even if you yourself sincerely believe in the superiority of positivism, this book will rid you of mythical historicist grounds for your argument: you must return to arguing for positivism on its own merits and not because the current year demands such a thing.
The real conundrum is if you *don’t* believe in positivism, like many of the writers Josephson-Storm discusses. Many humanities scholars use the myth of disenchantment not to cheerlead for atheism, but to apologize for their own commitment to methodological naturalism by appealing to a popular fairy tale (specifically, the tale of the vanishing of the fairies). This book may seem slight in its argument at first, but in fact, having read it closely, it will have a reflective force on your own work: you are no longer able to appeal to “disenchantment” in an honest way.
It is a magic book!
**UPDATE** A year later, I reread my review and I also see that the author of the work actually replied to me.
On my reread I notice that my title to this review is both abysmally tragic and embarrassingly ironic, given I spouted my critiques impressed by my own--ultimately mistaken--cleverness. I am humbled by JJS's gracious and thorough reply, and the gentleness with which he set my thinking straight, despite my harshness. I shouldn't have publicly critiqued this work before properly understanding it, and I'm embarrassed by my caricatures of his arguments and for simply acting like a jackass. (I'm an academic, I should know this is bad form!)
Also, I failed to note the first time around that Storm takes the time to defend analytic philosophers from the charge of positivism. As an analytic philosopher, I really appreciate both that Storm makes the distinction in his own mind, and that he makes an effort to correct his colleagues on the same point.
Given that my previous rating was based on a misunderstanding of the work, I've given the work a new rating of 5 stars (up from 3).
Top reviews from other countries
The language seemed to me to be quite jargony and the points of discussion includes a lot of inside baseball talk.
The foreword was barely intelligible to my ear but I was heartened at the first chapter which was argued with a lot more clarity. But by the time I reached the section on “philosophes” I found myself skimming or skipping large chunks of the text and I’ve kept up this reading method until the Crowley/Frazer sections. Surprisingly this has so far made the book a much more enjoyable read and the argumentation seemed clearer.
The title and sleeve design as well as the back cover blurbs and description seemed marketed to me. My natural interests seem to make me taylor made for this book. But in reading it I felt the writing style to be alienating.