The stern visage of Max Weber looms over discussions of modernity and enchantment, as does the sunnier countenance of Charles Taylor. Perhaps they should be joined by the open faced, bluntly spoken, and allegedly poker wielding Ludwig Wittgenstein. This choice might seem counter-intuitive. Wittgenstein did not write much about enchantment, and is more often considered a disenchanter who used the tools of philosophy to dispel illusions brought about by linguistic misuse. As he wrote, “Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language.”Read the rest of Modernity, enchantment, and Fictionalism.
Michael Saler is Professor of History at the University of California, Davis. His research interests include modern European intellectual and cultural history and modern British history. He is the author of As If: Modern Enchantment and the Literary Prehistory of Virtual Reality (Oxford University Press, 2012) and The Avant-Garde in Interwar England: Medieval Modernism and the London Underground (Oxford University Press, 2001); co-editor of The Re-Enchantment of the World: Secular Magic in a Rational Age (Stanford University Press, 2009) and editor of the forthcoming The Fin-de-siècle World.
Posts by Michael Saler:
At first glance, Courtney Bender’s The New Metaphysicals might appear narrow and idiosyncratic. After all, it’s an ethnography of spiritual practitioners in Cambridge, Massachusetts—a pairing of the sacred and the secular that can seem as incongruous as Buddhists at boxing matches. What do astral voyagers, shamanistic drummers, and OBEs (Out of Body Experiencers, not to be confused with the equally rarefied Order of the British Empire) have to do with a progressive community anchored by such bastions of rational knowledge as Harvard and MIT?Read the rest of Quantum sociology and The New Metaphysicals.