- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Cornell University Press (November 30, 1981)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0801492254
- ISBN-13: 978-0801492259
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #827,985 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Reenchantment of the World Paperback – November 30, 1981
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"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
From the Back Cover
A perspective study of our scientific consciousness and a cogent and forceful challenge to its supremacy. Focusing on the rise of the mechanistic idea that we can know the natural world only by distancing ourselves from it, Berman shows how science acquired its controlling position in the consciousness of the West.
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Top Customer Reviews
OK, I'm interested in that premise. The problem (for me) was that after the first few chapters where Berman painted his vision of the pre-scientific world view and then a few chapters on the current scientific world view, I was ready for what changes he recommended. But the last half of the book was a summary of Bateson's work, and I didn't follow most of it, and when I did follow it, I thought Berman spent 20 pages describing what could have been better described in 2 pages. Maybe I just didn't get it.
I recently read Ken Wilber's "A Brief History of Everything" and IMO he is much easier to understand and does a much better job of explaining his recommended path forward. I am glad I read Berman, and his book definitely gave me some things to think about. But I would read Wilber first.
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.
What I think it all comes down to, for Berman and the rest of us, is: how much of our domination by intellect are we willing to sacrifice or humble, in order to find re-enchantment? Berman is wrong in thinking that mystical and occult approaches simply end up dispensing with thought: that type of superficial prejudice is really unworthy of a man who's proved himself so capable of complex thought. The truth is that mystical or occult, animistic or magical "re-enchantment" don't dispsense with thinking, they just put it in its proper place: and its proper place is not as the high and mighty ruler of the realm. A magical world view allows the rekindling of a childlike awe and wonder, and innocence, something that comes prior to intellectualizing, as does intuition and emotion. Intuition and emotion aren't irrational, as so many men have thought, and so many women have suffered being devalued for what women really seem to do so much better than men. Intuition and emotion are actually types of reasoning.
Yet I think that even non-mystical, non-occult paths of Buddhism and Hinduism, forms of spirituality which cultivate presence and mindfulness, will also reveal that the more a person cultivates presence, the more their thinking and intellect becomes "purifed" and brought into the proper place: a place which is secondary to presence, not dominating over it.
We don't actually have to search long and far for re-enchantment, nor is the way to an innocent and simple way of life found only through negotiating a complex explanation of the metaphysics and epistemology of a cultural anthropologist. All we have to do is wake up and just start to experience an authentic, open relationship with the world around us. Enchantment comes naturally to those who open their hearts.
A Brief History of Everything