Modernity, enchantment, and Fictionalism

Footbridge-between-worldsMichael Saler at The Immanent Frame:

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.”

Nevertheless, enchantment was central to Wittgenstein’s outlook on life. By enchantment he meant a sense of wonder regarding the world. He described wonder as his “experience par excellence…when I have it I wonder at the existence of the world. And I am then inclined to use such phrases as ‘how extraordinary that anything should exist’ or ‘how extraordinary that the world should exist.’” Plato and Aristotle claimed that philosophy begins in wonder, and Wittgenstein’s famous last words—“Tell them I’ve had a wonderful life”—suggests it ends there as well. His later philosophy aimed at re-enchanting the world by re-describing it in new and unexpected ways. In so doing, the world does not change—things remain as they are—but our fundamental orientation to the world changes: “We see, not change of aspect, but change of interpretation.” As a result, one becomes aware of how rich, contingent and variable the world is.

more here.