Why Do We Think We Are Disenchanted?

Jason A. Josephson-Storm and others at The New Atlantis:

To catch up those who are unfamiliar with my book, The Myth of Disenchantment is rooted in the following observation: Many theorists have argued that what makes the modern world “modern” is that people no longer believe in spirits, myth, or magic — in this sense we are “disenchanted.” However, every day new proof arises that “modern” thinkers do in fact believe in magic and in spirits, and they have done so throughout history. According to a range of anthropological and sociological evidence, which I discuss in the book, the majority of people living in Europe and North America believe (to varying degrees) in the following: spirits, witches, psychical powers, magic, astrology, and demons. Scholars have known this was true of much of the rest of the globe, but have overlooked its continued presence in the West.

So my book set out to answer the question: Where did this notion of de-spiritualized modernity come from? In other words, how did this mistaken belief set in? To explain, I traced the history of the idea that modernity means disenchantment in the birth of various intellectual disciplines, namely: philosophy, anthropology, sociology, folklore, psychoanalysis, and religious studies. In so doing, I discovered that the majority of theorists who gave the idea of disenchantment its canonical formulations were living in Britain, France, or Germany in a period in which spiritualism (séances and table turning), theosophy, and magical societies like the Golden Dawn were taking place as massive cross-cultural movements and, as I show from archival research into these theorists’ diaries, letters, and so on, these occult movements entered directly into the lives and beliefs of the very theorists of disenchantment themselves.

more here.