Disenchantment  

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Die zunehmende Intellektualisierung und Rationalisierung bedeutet also nicht eine zunehmende allgemeine Kenntnis der Lebensbedingungen, unter denen man steht. Sondern sie bedeutet etwas anderes: das Wissen davon oder den Glauben daran: daß man, wenn man nur wollte, es jederzeit erfahren könnte, daß es also prinzipiell keine geheimnisvollen unberechenbaren Mächte gebe, die da hineinspielen, daß man vielmehr alle Dinge – im Prinzip – durch Berechnen beherrschen könne. Das aber bedeutet: die Entzauberung der Welt. Nicht mehr, wie der Wilde, für den es solche Mächte gab, muss man zu magischen Mitteln greifen, um die Geister zu beherrschen oder zu erbitten. Sondern technische Mittel und Berechnung leisten das. Dies vor allem bedeutet die Intellektualisierung als solche. --Max Weber, Wissenschaft als Beruf, München 1919

Translation: "The increasing intellectualization and rationalization do not, therefore, indicate an increased and general knowledge of the conditions under which one lives. It means something else, namely, the knowledge or belief that if one but wished one could learn it at any time. Hence, it means that principally there are no mysterious incalculable forces that come into play, but rather that one can, in principle, master all things by calculation. This means that the world is disenchanted. One need no longer have recourse to magical means in order to master or implore the spirits, as did the savage, for whom such mysterious powers existed. Technical means and calculations perform the service. This above all is what intellectualization means."[1]

 The Canard Digérateur, or Digesting Duck, was an automaton in the form of duck, created by Jacques de Vaucanson in 1739.   Voltaire wrote that "without [...] the duck of Vaucanson, you have nothing to remind you of the glory of France." ("Sans...le canard de Vaucanson vous n'auriez rien qui fit ressouvenir de la gloire de la France.") This is often misquoted as "Without the shitting duck, we would have nothing to remind us of the glory of France."
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The Canard Digérateur, or Digesting Duck, was an automaton in the form of duck, created by Jacques de Vaucanson in 1739. Voltaire wrote that "without [...] the duck of Vaucanson, you have nothing to remind you of the glory of France." ("Sans...le canard de Vaucanson vous n'auriez rien qui fit ressouvenir de la gloire de la France.") This is often misquoted as "Without the shitting duck, we would have nothing to remind us of the glory of France."
“Modern architecture died in St. Louis, Missouri on July 15, 1972 at 3:32 pm when the infamous Pruitt-Igoe scheme, or rather several of its slab blocks, were given the final coup de grace by dynamite.” -- Charles Jencks
Enlarge
Modern architecture died in St. Louis, Missouri on July 15, 1972 at 3:32 pm when the infamous Pruitt-Igoe scheme, or rather several of its slab blocks, were given the final coup de grace by dynamite.” -- Charles Jencks

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

In social science, disenchantment (from dis- and enchantment, German: Entzauberung) is the cultural rationalization and devaluation of mysticism apparent in modern society. The concept was borrowed from Friedrich Schiller by Max Weber to describe the character of modernized, bureaucratic, secularized Western society, where scientific understanding is more highly valued than belief, and where processes are oriented toward rational goals, as opposed to traditional society where for Weber "the world remains a great enchanted garden".

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Enlightenment ambivalence

Weber's ambivalent appraisal of the process of disenchantment as both positive and negative was taken up by the Frankfurt school in their examination of the self-destructive elements in Enlightenment rationalism.

Habermas has subsequently striven to find a positive foundation for modernity in the face of disenchantment, even while appreciating Weber's recognition of how far secular society was created from, and is still "haunted by the ghosts of dead religious beliefs".

Some have seen the disenchantment of the world as a call for existentialist commitment and individual responsibility in the face of a collective normative void.

Sacralisation

Disenchantment is related to the notion of desacralization, whereby the structures and institutions that previously channeled spiritual belief into rituals that promoted collective identities came under attack and waned in popularity. According to Henri Hubert and Marcel Mauss, the ritual of sacrifice involved two processes: sacralization and desacralization. The first process endows a profane offering with sacred properties—consecration—which provides a bridge of communication between the worlds of the sacred and profane. Once the sacrifice has been made, the ritual must be desacralized in order to return the worlds of the sacred and profane to their proper places.

Disenchantment operates on a macro-level, rather than the micro-level described above. It also destroys part of the process whereby the chaotic social elements that require sacralization in the first place continue with mere knowledge as their antidote. Thereby disenchantment can be related to Durkheim's concept of anomie: an un-mooring of the individual from the ties that bind in society.

Reenchantment

In recent years, Weber's paradigm has been challenged by thinkers who see a process of "reenchantment" operating alongside that of disenchantment.

Jung considered symbols to provide a means for the numinous to return from the unconscious to the desacralised world - a means for the recovery of myth, and the sense of wholeness it once provided, by a disenchanted modernity.

Ernest Gellner argued that though disenchantment was the inevitable product of modernity, many people just could not stand a disenchanted world, and therefore opted for various "re-enchantment creeds" (as he called them) such as psychoanalysis, Marxism, Wittgensteinianism, phenomenology and ethnomethodology. A noticeable feature of these re-enchantment creeds is that they all tried to make themselves compatible with naturalism: i.e., they did not refer to supernatural forces.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Disenchantment" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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