I am travelling all week on “planes, trains and automobiles.” Instead of reading novellas, I am distracted by James Wood’s article in the latest New Yorker on ‘Secularism and it’s discontents.’ In the article Wood cites Max Weber’s reference to “disenchantment,” central to Josipovici’s position on modernism.

Since the nineteenth century, the disappearance of God has often been considered elegiacally, as a loss or a lack. A century ago, the German sociologist Max Weber asserted that the modern, Godless age, was characterised by a sense of “disenchantment.” Weber seems to have meant that without God or religion modern man moves in a rational, scientific world, without appeal to the supernatural and salvific, and is perhaps condemned to search fruitlessly for a meaning that was once vouchsafed for religious believers.

2 thoughts on “Disenchantment

  1. Since reading Josipovici on modernism, I’ve been thinking on this disenchantment issue, and the direction my mind is going in is that perhaps the loss or lack of God is not the loss or lack it appears to be at all but an actual presence of God in the nothingness that we have too blinkered to see (having been blinkered by the predetermined religious and theological concepts). The idea that theire might be “reenchantment” lying hidden from view in the modernist texts (as defined by Josipovici) I find quite provocative and curious.


    • It is a compelling turn, Richard, and very provocative. I need to reread Josipovici on modernism, your last point offers a different reading.

      Weber’s term, borrowed from Schiller, defines disenchantment as the elimination of magic, he argued that religion was responsible for the elimination of magic. Christianity’s monotheism was the agent of disenchantment, Schiller’s original argument. Whatever magic represents therefore, nonbelievers suffer from its loss as much as do believers.


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