The Myth of Disenchantment
Magic, Modernity, and the Birth of the Human Sciences
University of Chicago Press 2017
New Books in FolkloreNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Intellectual HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in ReligionNew Books in Religion & FaithNew Books in Science & TechnologyNew Books in Science, Technology, and SocietyNew Books Network December 21, 2017 Dexter Fergie
We tend to think of ourselves—our modern selves–as disenchanted. We have traded magic, myth, and spirits for science, reason, and logic. But this is false. Jason Josephson-Storm, in his exciting new book titled The Myth of Disenchantment: Magic, Modernity, and the Birth of the Human Sciences (University of Chicago Press, 2017) challenges this classical story of modernity. Josephson-Storm, associate professor in and chair of the Department of Religion at Williams College, argues that modernity is riddled with magic, and that attempts to curtail it have often failed. Adding a twist to a well-known expression, he writes that we have never been disenchanted. Josephson-Storm investigates the human sciences—philosophy, psychoanalysis, sociology, and folklore studies, to name a few—which were critical to the creation and spread of the myth of a mythless society. But the human sciences were themselves also deeply entangled with magic. They often, Josephson-Storm reveals, emerged from occult origins, flirted with the paranormal, or even produced new enchantments. As can be surmised from this brief description, the audience of The Myth of Disenchantment will be a broad and eclectic one. The book will be of interest to scholars in religious studies, science and technology studies, and historians of philosophy, science, ideas, culture, and Europe.