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The Myth of Disenchantment: Magic, Modernity, and the Birth of the Human Sciences Paperback – May 16, 2017
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From the Author
I think of a book as opening a dialogue with readers. In this respect, I want to be more open to email contact and conversation than is typical for academic authors. I'm always happy to discuss issues the book evokes, answer questions, or provide clarifications. You can email me via contact information on my academic website at Williams College or contact me on my blog (google Absolute-Disruption or find the link on my Amazon Author Page). I may not reply immediately, but I will respond.
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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!