The Problem with Disenchantment

Scientific Naturalism and Esoteric Discourse, 1900-1939

Reddit icon
e-mail icon
Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Google icon
LinkedIn icon
Egil Asprem
SUNY Series in Western Esoteric Traditions
  • Albany, NY: 
    State University of New York Press
    , June
     2018.
     646 pages.
     $44.95.
     Paperback.
    ISBN
    9781438469928.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Jens Schlieter forthcoming.

Description

Challenges the conventional view of a “disenchanted” and secular modernity, and recovers the complex relation that exists between science, religion, and esotericism in the modern world.

Max Weber famously characterized the ongoing process of intellectualization and rationalization that separates the natural world from the divine (by excluding magic and value from the realm of science, and reason and fact from the realm of religion) as the “disenchantment of the world.” Egil Asprem argues for a conceptual shift in how we view this key narrative of modernity. Instead of a sociohistorical process of disenchantment that produces increasingly rational minds, Asprem maintains that the continued presence of “magic” and “enchantment” in people’s everyday experience of the world created an intellectual problem for those few who were socialized to believe that nature should contain no such incalculable mysteries. Drawing on a wide range of early twentieth-century primary sources from theoretical physics, occultism, embryology, radioactivity, psychical research, and other fields, Asprem casts the intellectual life of high modernity as a synchronic struggle across conspicuously different fields that shared surprisingly similar intellectual problems about value, meaning, and the limits of knowledge.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Egil Asprem is Associate Professor of History of Religions at the Department of Ethnology, History of Religions, and Gender Studies, Stockholm University, and the author of Arguing with Angels: Enochian Magic and Modern Occulture, also published by SUNY Press.

Add New Comment

Reading Religion welcomes comments from AAR members, and you may leave a comment below by logging in with your AAR Member ID and password. Please read our policy on commenting.

Log in to post comments